FBI disputes Trump's wiretapping claim

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 6 (IANS) Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey has asked the US Justice Department to publicly reject President Donald Trump's claim that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered his phones to be tapped last year, senior officials said.

Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Trump levelled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law, officials told the New York Times on Sunday.

The FBI chief has argued that the claim is false and must be corrected, the officials told the newspaper.

The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment.

However, the White House showed no indication that it would back down from Trump's claims.

On Sunday, Trump demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election.

In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the President, through his Press Secretary Sean Spicer, issued a statement on Sunday that said: "President Donald Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016."

A spokesman for Obama and his former aides have called the accusation by Trump "completely false", saying that Obama never ordered any wiretapping of a US citizen.

"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," Kevin Lewis, Obama's spokesman, said in a statement on Saturday.

Speaking on NBC News on Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. denied that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap was authorised against Trump or the campaign during his tenure.

"There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time as a candidate or against his campaign," Clapper said on "Meet the Press", adding that he would "absolutely" have been informed if the FBI had received a FISA warrant against either.

In his claims early Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that he "just found out" that Obama had "my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower" before the election. Trump compared the alleged action to "McCarthyism."

By Sunday morning, the White House doubled down on Trump's explosive tweet storm and called for the congressional probe.

--IANS

soni/vt