Sean Spicer: Just the 'beginning phase' of investigating whether Trump Tower was surveilled
White House press secretary Sean Spicer is continuing to defend US President Donald Trump's claims that Trump's predecessor ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the presidential election campaign.
That is despite FBI Director James Comey testifying to Congress on Tuesday (NZT) that there is "no information" supporting that claim.
"We are still at the beginning phase of a look as to what kind of surveillance took place and why," Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing at the White House.
Spicer argued that Trump critics have focused too narrowly on the president's use of the term "wiretapping" when he first levelled his explosive charge against former president Barack Obama on Twitter more than two weeks ago.
* FBI Director James Comey's testimony humiliates Trump
* FBI investigating Trump campaign link with Russians
* Trump says Democrats 'made up' Russia allegations
* Donald Trump's approval rating drops to 37 per cent
* No evidence to support Trump's wiretapping claims
"I think there's continuing to be a very, very literal interpretation of his tweet, which is whether or not there was wiretapping," Spicer said. "The president understands that you don't literally wiretap people the same way you did in the '70s and '80s with wires and things in the top of the phone."
Asked whether Trump maintains confidence in Comey, Spicer said: "There's no reason to believe he doesn't at this time."
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
Spicer also sought to downplay testimony by Comey that there is an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and that the probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
Spicer stressed that an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign doesn't mean that there was any. And he said that several people who have been briefed by the FBI have publicly said they've seen no evidence of collusion.
"Investigating it and having proof of it are two different things," Spicer said. "I think it's fine to look into it, but at the end of the day they're going to come to the same conclusion that everybody else has had."
- The Washington Post