The White House on Sunday called for Congress to investigate whether the Obama Administration abused its investigative powers last year and secretly wiretapped the Trump campaign prior to the election. The existence of a warrant to surveil Trump officials for allegedly improper ties to Russia was first reported in November by Heat Street.
Trump Administration officials asked Sunday that the investigation be wrapped into existing Congressional investigations of Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign
“Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Twitter.
The uproar over possible wiretapping began Saturday morning when an outraged President Trump tweeted that President Obama was “tapping my phones” during the 2016 campaign.
In that November report, Louise Mensch described the existence of a secret “FISA warrant”, approved by a court, which allowed FBI agents to do electronic surveillance of Trump’s campaign and associates. According to Heat Street, the FBI was first turned down by a court but was later successful. Reports from The Guardian and the BBC later independently reported the FISA request and eventual granting of a warrant.
On Saturday, a spokesman for Obama categorically denied that the President “nor any White House official under Obama has ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion is unequivocally false.”
The denials from Obama-era officials continued Sunday morning. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who left his post when Trump took office on January 20, told NBC’s Meet the Press: “There was no such wire-tap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign.”
But on ABC’s This Week, Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he believed the President. “I think he’s right in that there was surveillance and that it was conducted at the behest of the attorney general – at the Justice Department,” he said.
Also on This Week, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that the Trump Administration was only asking for a thorough investigation to find out if the wiretapping had indeed occurred.
“There are multiple news outlets that have reported this,” she said. “And all we’re asking is that we get the same level of look into the Obama Administration and the potential that they had for a complete abuse of power.”
ABC host Martha Raddatz, who was interviewing Sanders, cited Heat Street as she tried to clarify where Trump got his information that he was wiretapped.
“The President said it did take place,” Raddatz began. “Why does he believe these articles that you say you cite, and I’m saying they are not definitive. The Breitbart [article] brings them all together: Heat Street had two sources with links to the counterintelligence community. That’s it. Anonymous sources.”
The White House is also pursuing an investigation of its own. The New York Times reported Saturday that White House Counsel Donald McGahn is now searching for the alleged FISA warrants or warrants.