U.S. President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns to the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday they saw no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Republican Chairman Richard Burr and Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said in a statement.
Trump, a Republican, made the accusation in a series of early morning posts on Twitter on March 4, six weeks after he took over the presidency from Democrat Barack Obama and amid rising scrutiny of his campaign’s ties to Russia.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, on Thursday added his voice to those rejecting Trump’s contention.
“The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom – at least so far – with respect to our intelligence community that – that no such wiretap existed,” Ryan told reporters.
Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him during the late stages of the campaign, but provided no evidence. Obama said through a spokesman that it was “simply false.”
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!,” Trump wrote.
At least four congressional committees added the startling accusation in their investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Trump and his associates.
On Wednesday, House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and top Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters they had seen no evidence that Trump Tower was tapped and said they would ask Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey about the issue during a public hearing on Monday.
Ryan told reporters he received the same intelligence briefing as Nunes and Schiff.
Trump appeared to back away from his accusation of wiretapping in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night.
“But wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” Trump said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Alexander and Grant McCool)