US President Donald Trump accuses Barack Obama of 'wire tapping' Trump Tower
US President Donald Trump has launched extraordinary charges against former president Barack Obama, accusing him of "wire tapping" Trump Tower during the US Elections.
Trump issued the allegations in a series of early morning tweets on Saturday (Sunday NZ Time), but offered no evidence to support the allegation.
"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!," Trump said on his Twitter account.
A spokesman for Obama has since called the claims "simply false", saying "neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen".
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
It's the second time inside a week Trump has attacked his predecessor.
In an interview on Fox News on Monday, Trump accused Obama of orchestrating protests again his new administration.
Some current and former intelligence officials cast doubt on Trump's latest accusations.
"It's highly unlikely there was a wiretap on the president-elect," one former senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told The Washington Post.
"It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probably cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power."
A wiretap cannot be used at a US facility without finding probable cause that the phone lines or internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power – or by people spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government.
"You can't just go around and tap buildings," the official said.
Trump's administration has come under pressure from FBI and congressional investigations into contacts between some members of his campaign team and Russian officials during his campaign.
Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and ordered Russian diplomats to leave the US in December over the country's involvement in hacking political groups in the November 8 US presidential election.
Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned in February after revelations that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office.
Flynn had promised Vice President Mike Pence he had not discussed US sanctions with the Russians, but transcripts of intercepted communications, described by US officials, showed that the subject had come up in conversations between him and the Russian ambassador.
Trump has often used his Twitter account to attack rivals and for years led a campaign alleging that Obama was not born in the US. He later retracted the allegation.
Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis denied Trump's allegation that the former president ordered a wiretap of him last October.
Lewis said: "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.
"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."
- Reuters, The Washington Post
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