Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a meeting at the White House in Washington on Feb. 14, 2017.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

White House officials on Monday defended President Donald Trump's explosive claim that Barack Obama tapped Trump's telephones during last year's election, although they won't say exactly where that information came from and left open the possibility that it isn't true.

The comments came even as FBI Director James Comey privately asked the Justice Department to dispute the claim because he believed the allegations were false.

When asked whether Trump accepted Comey's view, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC's "Good Morning America": "I don't think he does."

Story continues below advertisement

Explainer: Trump, Russian hackers and the election: What we know so far

Campbell Clark: U.S. allies shaken by Donald Trump's wiretap tweets about Obama

Read more: Issues to watch in Washington during a high-stakes week for Trump

Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, another top adviser, said the president still firmly believes the allegations he made on Twitter over the weekend. The aides said any ambiguity surrounding the issue is all the more reason for Congress to investigate the matter.

"We'd like to know for sure," Sanders told NBC's "Today" show.

The House and Senate intelligence committees, and the FBI, are investigating contacts between Trump's campaign and Russian officials, as well as whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 election. On Sunday, Trump demanded that they broaden the scope of their inquiries to include Obama's potential abuse of executive powers.

When asked where Trump was getting his information from, Sanders said the president "may have access to documents that I don't know about."

Story continues below advertisement

Likewise, Conway said that "credible news sources" suggested there was politically motivated activity during the campaign. But Conway also said Trump might have access to other information she and others don't.

"He is the president of the United States," Conway told Fox News' "Fox & Friends." "He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not."

Trump is said to be frustrated by his senior advisers' inability to tamp down allegations about contacts between his campaign aides and the Russian government. Compounding the situation was the revelation last week that former U.S. senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an early Trump campaign supporter, had met twice with the Russian ambassador but didn't disclose that to lawmakers when he was asked about it during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Separately, an Indiana newspaper reported that Vice-President Mike Pence used personal email to conduct state business when he was governor of Indiana. The revelation recalled the use of personal email by Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state. The issue dogged Clinton for most of the presidential campaign.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Sunday that Comey had asked the Justice Department to refute Trump's allegation of illegal wiretapping. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the request by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The department, however, has issued no such statement. DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment Sunday, and an FBI spokesman also did not comment.

Story continues below advertisement

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement that the panel "will follow the evidence where it leads, and we will continue to be guided by the intelligence and facts as we compile our findings."

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the committee "will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party's campaign officials or surrogates."

Trump's request carries some risk, particularly if the committees unearth damaging information about him or his associates. Committee Democrats will have access to the information and could wield anything negative against the president. Asking Congress to conduct a much broader investigation than originally envisioned also ensures the Russia issue will hang over the White House for months.

Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said nothing matching Trump's claims had taken place.

"Absolutely, I can deny it," said Clapper, who left government when Trump took office.

Josh Earnest, who was Obama's White House press secretary, said presidents do not have authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of American citizens, as Trump has alleged was done to him. FBI investigators and Justice Department officials must seek approval from a federal judge for such a step. Earnest accused Trump of levelling the allegation to distract from the attention being given to the Russia issue.

Story continues below advertisement

Trump said in the tweets that he had "just found out" about being wiretapped. Unclear was whether he was referring to having learned through a briefing, a conversation or a media report. The president in the past has tweeted about unsubstantiated and provocative reports he reads on blogs or conservative websites.

The tweets stood out, given the gravity of the charge and the sharp personal attack on the former president. Trump spoke as recently as last month about how much he likes Obama and how much they get along, despite their differences.

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" he tweeted, misspelling 'tap.'

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies