Comey: no evidence supporting Trump’s wiretap accusations

FBI Director James Comey has just appeared before the House Intelligence Committee.

On Donald Trump’s tweeted accusations that then-President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential election campaign:

“I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI”.

He also said that that the Justice Department had also looked for evidence to support Trump’s  allegation and couldn’t find any.

And the Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers strongly denied allegations repeated by the Trump administration that he’d asked GCHQ to spy on Mr Trump.

Comey declined to say whether the FBI was investigating the potential leak of classified information related to now resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, but said that such a leak would be taken very seriously.

Comey  confirmed that the FBI was investigating if Russia had meddled in the presidential election, including investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The official presidential Twitter account responded:

BBC Live: FBI: No evidence Obama wiretapped Trump

Summary

  1. FBI director Comey confirms investigation into alleged Russian meddling in US election and any Trump links
  2. The law enforcement chief says there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump
  3. The Trump administration says ‘nothing has changed’ and ‘there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion’
  4. The NSA’s head strongly denies Trump administration claims that he asked Britain’s GCHQ to spy on Trump
  5. Democrats and Republicans, meanwhile, trade barbs at Senate hearing on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating any possible co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the election outcome.

US intelligence chiefs have previously said only that they believed Russia aimed to favour Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Comey also said neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice had evidence to support Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama wiretapped his phones ahead of the election.

And the Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers strongly denied allegations repeated by the Trump administration that he’d asked GCHQ to spy on Mr Trump.

Rogers said that would violate both US law and international spy agreements.

Chris Wallace at Fox News:

Wallace said it was “pretty startling” to hear the FBI director confirm that the Trump campaign – including President Trump – is under FBI investigation.

He added that Comey also said that the FBI has “no information” to support Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the presidential campaign.

“It’s been a bad day for the Trump White House,” Wallace said.

Trump alleges Obama ordered Tower wiretap

Donald Trump has accused Obama of ordering a wiretap on Trump Tower during last year’s  election.

No evidence so far.  Is it a leak from an anonymous ‘source’? Trump has slammed leaks and anonymous sources.

NBC News: President Says Obama Wiretapped Trump Tower During Campaign

On Friday, Fox’s Brett Baier asked House Speaker Paul Ryan whether he was concerned “that the Obama Administration may have been surveilling members of the Trump campaign in a pretty detailed investigation during the election?”

Ryan responded by saying: “I don’t think that’s the case.”

Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to Obama, said in a tweet that presidents can’t simply order wiretaps as Trump suggests.

So, is this a conspiracy theory? An attempted diversion? Both?

I think that would be illegal.

The Hill: Obama spokesman: Trump wiretap accusation ‘simply false’

No Obama administration official interfered in Justice Department investigations or ordered surveillance on any American, much less President Trump, a spokesman for former President Obama said Saturday.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” he added. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

I’d be looking for what Trump may be trying to blow a smokescreen over.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump had any proof or was referencing a report. Breitbart News on Friday reported on conservative radio host Mark Levin’s claim that Obama executed a “silent coup” of Trump via “police state” tactics. White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was the executive chair of Breitbart before joining Trump’s team.

A common Breitbart tactic is to accuse others to divert from attacks – and the more outlandish the accusation the better as it attracts more attention.

And it appears that Trump’s accusation is based on a Breitbart story.

Donald Trump Questions ‘Sick Guy’ Barack Obama for ‘Wire Tapping’ His Campaign

Trump is likely referring to calls from talk radio hosts Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh to investigate the nature of the Obama administration’s investigations of his campaign aides for their communications with Russia, as Breitbart News editor Joel Pollak reported. 

Breitbart also have a record of getting false stories circulating amongst their (and Trump’s) base. And the Pollak story seems to be accusing Obama as a diversion from what Trump’s campaign is accused of doing.

In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.

Levin called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and demanded that it be investigated.

In addition, Levin castigated Republicans in Congress for focusing their attention on Trump and Attorney General Sessions rather than Obama.

Perhaps Levin should be investigated.

Some actual background in this Twitter thread: