President Trump's Credibility On Wiretap Claim Continues To Crumble
March 20, 2017
This story has been updated to reflect F.B.I. director James Comey's testimony before the House intelligence committee hearing today into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
At left, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA. At right, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-CA, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee appearing together on TV Wed. March 15 to answer questions on the alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- President Trump's bombastic claim made via tweets that former President Obama, for reasons never explained, wiretapped Trump Tower during the last presidential campaign is looking less credible with each passing week.
Neither President Trump nor any of his advisors have offered any proof to back up what may be the strangest allegation a sitting president has ever made about the president that preceded him in office.
The latest on the issue has the two top members on the House intelligence committee saying Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence whatsoever that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower.
"Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No there never was," said the House Committee's Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California. "The information we received Friday continues to lead us in that (no wiretap) direction." He also said there was no "FISA warrant I am aware of to tap Trump Tower."
FISA stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It requires investigators to try to get a warrant from a secret court to wiretap a foreign suspect.
However, the committee's ranking Democrat did say the documents provide some circumstantial evidence that some American citizens colluded with certain Russians in the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election
"There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday on the NBC TV program "Meet The Press. "There's certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation."
However, on Fox News on Sunday Rep. Nunes said that he hasn't seen any evidence of collusion between Russians and Trump associates.
"I'll give you a very simple answer: 'No,'" he said. "Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning, there's no evidence of collusion."
That House committee is set to start hearings Monday into Russia's role into cyber hacks at the Democratic National Committee, as well as President Trump's unsubstantiated claim about the wiretapping.
Both FBI Director James Comey and Mike Rogers, Director of The National Security Agency are scheduled to testify.
Update 3/20/17 8:14 PDT: At The House intelligence committee hearing today into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, F.B.I. director James Comey said his agency had “no information” to support President Trump’s to date unfounded allegation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him.
Comey also publicly confirmed there is an investigation underway into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of President Trump were in contact with Moscow.
The Washington Post called this admission by Comey an "extraordinary disclosure," of a probe into, among other things, possible coordination between the Kremlin and persons associated with the Trump presidential campaign.
At the hearing Director Comey said the FBI traditionally does not disclose the existence of an investigation, “but in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” he added, “it may be appropriate to do so.”
Comey told the panel he was authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the existence of the investigation into Russian interference in the US electoral process.
He told the hearing the FBI's investigation began in late July. End update
CNN reported Sunday that when Comey testifies there may be, "A moment of political theater that could end in humiliation for Trump, with Comey expected to say that there was no wiretapping, debunking allegations that Trump has repeatedly refused to withdraw."
U.S. intelligence officials maintain that Russian operatives were behind the theft of emails last summer from the Democratic National Committee and that the Russian government was the controlling agent in the background that directed the cyber breach in an effort to attempt to influence the outcome of November's presidential election.
Chairman Nunes said, "We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They're also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe."
Nunes said the committee will try to determine whether the Russians were simply trying to plant doubt in the U.S. electoral system or whether they were trying to help Donald Trump get elected to the White House.
Rep. Schiff added on the "Meet the Press" show, "I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the President said was just patently false."