White House press secretary Sean Spicer is backtracking on President Donald Trump’s claims that Barack Obama had Trump’s phones tapped at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election — despite Trump accusing Obama of wiretapping on Twitter earlier this month. Watch the video above.
“I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election,” Spicer said on Monday, March 13, during a White House press conference. “The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”
According to Spicer, POTUS also meant the “Obama administration” and not Obama himself. (Trump’s tweets — in which he directly accuses former President Obama — are still up for all to see.)
As previously reported, Trump tweeted on March 4: “ Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! … Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW! … How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Spicer’s comments come as the White House has yet to provide any evidence proving Trump’s claims. On Monday the Department of Justice also asked for “additional time” to collect evidence that could support Trump’s wiretapping claims. The House Intelligence Committee had previously set Monday as the deadline.
In a statement to Us on March 4, President Obama’s spokesperson Kevin Lewis denied Trump’s accusations. “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,” the statement read. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”