Politics

AP: Trump Got Wiretapping Story From Breitbart News

| by Michael Howard

President Donald Trump's accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign was allegedly taken from a Breitbart News article that had been given to Trump by one of his aides.

In a piece detailing Trump's obsession with reading the newspaper and watching cable news, The Associated Press reported that the allegation against Obama was first presented by conservative radio host Mark Levin.

The story -- for which Levin supplied no evidence -- was then picked up by Breitbart News, the alt-right outlet formerly owned by Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist. According to AP, an aide printed out the Breitbart article and slipped it into the president's reading pile.

Hours later, Trump sent out a series of tweets in which he accused Obama of spying on him by tapping his phone lines in his main New York City residence and place of business, Trump Tower.

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"Terrible!" he wrote on March 4. "Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

"Is it legal for a sitting President to be 'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election?" he asked in a later tweet. "Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"

In a third accusatory tweet, Trump wrote: "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!"

The White House has since stated that Trump supports a congressional investigation into "whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016." Such an investigation, according to NBC News, would be part of a broader investigation into alleged Russian hacking.

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Senate Judiciary Committee members Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island reportedly addressed a letter to the FBI and acting deputy attorney general in which they requested whatever evidence is available regarding Trump's wiretapping claims.

"We would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously," the lawmakers wrote, according to NBC News. "We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower."

A source who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity said Obama "rolled his eyes" when he learned of Trump's accusation.

The former president, the source said, "is much more concerned by President Trump kicking people off their health insurance, not staffing the government, not being prepared for a crisis, rolling back regulations so that corporations can pollute the air and water and letting mentally unstable people buy guns with no problems whatsoever."

"He cares about all those things much more than what President Trump tweets at the TV each morning," the source added.

Sources: AP, Donald J. Trump/Twitter (2, 3), NBC News / Photo credit: Kowloonese/Wikimedia Commons

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