Politicians Respond To Donald Trump Accusing Barack Obama Of Wiretapping Him
On Saturday, President Trump (yet again) managed to become the subject of most headlines across the U.S. after taking to his Twitter account. This time he accused Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the election and compared the former president to Nixon. "Terrible!" he wrote. "Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" He continued, "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
The president provided no evidence to justify his claims, but in one tweet, he suggested a "good lawyer" could make a "great case" proving that Obama had Trump's phone lines wiretapped in October. A former senior official familiar with the Justice Department's investigations during Obama's presidency denied any such actions were taken. "This did not happen. It is false. Wrong," he told CNN. An Obama spokesman also roundly denied the allegations.
Legislators soon began reacting to the allegations. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was "worried" about the accusations during a town hall. “I’m very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president has done something illegal,” he said. “I would be very worried if, in fact, the Obama Administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments.”
Sen. Graham has been one of the most vocal Republican critics of President Trump. He explained the wiretapping allegations to the town hall crowd with a dry, somewhat disbelieving tone. The audience broke into laughter at several points of his summary.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden tweeted, "Either FBI is talking to the subject of an investigation or Trump is making it up. Either way Americans deserve explanation."
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested that the president is likely attempting to distract the public from his own scandals. "The Deflector-in-Chief is at it again," she tweeted. "An investigation by an independent commission is the only answer."
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California reacted to the president's accusations on Twitter by writing, "You are not credible." He went on to appear AM Joy for an interview to explain that presidents don't order wiretaps. "Actually protections were put in place to keep just exactly what Donald Trump would want to do, which would probably be to have the authority to order wiretapping," he explained. "No, this comes from the Department of Justice. They work with the FBI and it is signed off by a judge, and typically a president wouldn't even be read in until the investigation was complete."
During a Friday interview on Fox, House Speaker Paul Ryan, in response to being asked if he was concerned about the possibility that the Obama Administration had surveilled Trump's camp during the election, said, "I don't think that's the case."
Rep. Adam Schiff released a statement critical of the president's actions. "If there's something bad or sick going on," he wrote, "it is the willingness of the nation's chief executive to make the most outlandish and destructive claims without a scintilla of evidence to support this spectacularly reckless allegation."
Sen. Ben Sasse likewise released a statement demanding an investigation of the situation.
Whether Trump's accusations will spark an investigation into the former president's activity remains to be seen.