United States Press Secretary Sean Spicer has broken his silence on the wiretapping allegations that President Donald Trump has made against former President Barack Obama.
On March 4, Trump released four tweets accusing his predecessor of illegally attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory," the first tweet said. "Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
The other three tweets went on to contemplate the legality of such an act, with one referencing the 1972 Watergate scandal.
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According to CNN, the tweets were met with skepticism by former U.S. senior officials who had worked with the Obama administration. One called the allegations "nonsense," while another insisted that wiretapping "did not happen."
In addition, Kevin Lewis, a spokesperson for Obama himself, stated that "neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."
Following the release of the tweets, there was some speculation that Trump had based his allegations off of a theory that came from a radio show hosted by Mark Levin and written about in a Breitbart News article, reported Business Insider.
On March 6, Spicer was asked by reporters to comment on the tweets. He was asked if he knew anything about the source of the allegations, and specifically if the source had been Levin's show or the Breitbart article. At the time, Spicer said that -- per the White House's position on the matter -- he would not make any comments on the subject until Congress had had the chance to investigate.
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A week after his initial refusal to comment, Spicer broke his silence during a news briefing on March 13. According to CNN, Spicer stated that Trump was not referring to wiretapping in his tweets, but rather that he "had used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities."
In addition, Spicer stated that Trump was not accusing Obama himself personal involvement in the matter, but rather the Obama administration as a whole. Spicer also said that there was "no question" that the Obama administration had been involved in surveillance activity during the election.
In addition to Spicer, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway also commented on Trump's allegations. CNN reported that in an interview with the Bergen County Record on March 12, Conway suggested that CIA surveillance methods could have been used by the Obama administration. Conway was specifically referring to CIA intelligence methods that were revealed by a WikiLeaks post on March 7.
March 13 also marks the day that the Justice Department was initially supposed to provide evidence regarding Trump's allegations to the House Intelligence Committee, according to CNN. The Justice Department has asked for more time and will be given until March 20 -- the date of the committee's open hearing -- to provide the information.