President Donald Trump said he believes his phones at Trump Tower in Manhattan were tapped by former President Barack Obama during the 2016 presidential election, but Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said that's a pointless argument to make.
"If it's true it's even worse" for Trump, Schumer said, according to the Independent, because approval of a phone tap warrant from a federal judge meant there was probably enough probable cause to OK the tap.
"On the other hand, if it's true it's even worse for the president because that means that a federal judge, independently elected, has found probably cause that the president, or people on his staff, have had probable cause to have broken the law or to have interacted with a foreign agent," Schumer added. "That's serious stuff so either way the president makes it worse with his tweets. Either way ... the president's in trouble."
Schumer has also called for a Department of Justice watchdog to probe the ongoing investigation into whether Trump had help from the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election.
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"As Inspector General, your mission is to detect and deter misconduct, as well as to investigate alleged violations of criminal and civil laws by DOJ employees," Schumer wrote to Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice's inspector general. "Many troubling facts and questions have emerged with respect to the role of Russia in our election and the investigation of that role by the federal government."
Trump accused Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower.
"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!" Trump tweeted on March 4.
He continued: "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
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Former Obama staff members denied the accusation.
"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," Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement, according to CNN. "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."
James Clapper, the former director of national security, who, according to RedState, lied to Congress in 2013 about the scope of the National Security Agency's ability to spy on private citizens, also denied Trump's claim.
"For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign," Clapper said on NBC's "Meet The Press," according to CNN.