British spy agency denies wiretap claims

Cheryl Sanders
March 17, 2017

The White House issued an apology to the British government Friday, a day after press secretary Sean Spicer publicly repeated a claim from a Fox News report that British intelligence had helped President Barack Obama spy on then-candidate Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, House of Representatives intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and top Democrat Adam Schiff said they had seen no evidence Trump Tower was tapped and they would ask Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey about the issue during a public hearing on Monday.

The White House has stood by President Donald Trump's unproven accusations that his predecessor wiretapped his NY skyscraper.

In an incredibly rare public statement, a British intelligence agency has dismissed claims, suggested by the White House, that it helped former U.S. president Barack Obama spy on his successor Donald Trump as "nonsense", reported The Telegraph.

But White House press secretary Sean Spicer followed that statement with a vigorous defense of Trump's accusation at the daily briefing.

Reuters reported earlier this week that an unidentified British security official had denied the allegations about Trump.

Donald Trump's claim that the Obama administration had ordered surveillance on him has generated enormous attention but with so far little evidence to back it up.

"I've been reading about things", Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel. Thursday, the House Intel Committee was saying it had yet to see any evidence of wiretapping, but had not yet closed the books out any and all forms of surveillance.

Nunes added, "If you're going to take the tweets literally, then the president was wrong".

Mr Spicer suggested the statement was made without a full review of the evidence or, incorrectly, a briefing from the justice department.

No, Mr. President, the New York Times didn't say that. A government source reportedly said the claim was "totally untrue and quite frankly absurd".

In March, Donald Trump, through a series of tweets, accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, though U.S. officials claimed that the allegations were baseless.

That's the rare public rebuke from Britain's eavesdropping nerve centre, which said that claims it had tapped Trump's phones were "nonsense".

"I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower", Nunes said.

The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, added his voice to those saying there was no sign of a wiretap.

The tension could break into the open Monday during a House Intelligence Committee public hearing on Russian Federation.

Tensions have flared in recent days between lawmakers and the Justice Department on the subject of Russian Federation, especially over FBI Director James Comey's approach to providing Capitol Hill with information about the bureau's investigation into Russia's activities in the 2016 campaign.

FILE - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, walks with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the US, as he arrives for the G8 Summit at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., May 18, 2012.

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