President Donald Trump stands by his accusation that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House said on Thursday, despite three senior lawmakers rejecting Trump's claim.
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a statement they saw "no indications" of surveillance at Trump Tower in New York as the president claimed in Twitter posts on 4 March.
Republican Chairman Richard Burr, Senator Mark Warner in a statementBased on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, on Thursday added his voice to those saying there was no sign of a wiretap.
But White House spokesman Sean Spicer forcefully defended Trump's assertion during a briefing, citing media reports that have discussed intelligence collection on possible contacts betweenTrump associates and Russia in the campaign.
There is no question that there were surveillance techniques used throughout this.
When pressed for further evidence, Spicer chastised the media for focusing so much attention on comments disparaging Trump's claim about surveillance. He said reporters have not focused enough on comments from officials denying evidence of any collusion between Russia and theTrump campaign.
The Russian government has rejected an accusation by US intelligence agencies that it worked to influence the election in Trump's favor by hacking computer systems, among other methods.
House Speaker Ryan told reporters:
The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom – at least so far – with respect to our intelligence community that no such wiretap existed.
An official familiar with the investigations by Congress and intelligence and law enforcement agencies said investigators have looked as aggressively and thoroughly as they can for evidence of any spying on Trump or his associates but have found none.