FBI Director James Comey stated before Congress that there is no information to support President Donald Trump's accusation that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, had ordered a wiretap of his 2016 campaign. Meanwhile, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers has denied the Obama administration ever asked British intelligence to surveil the Trump campaign.
On March 20, both Comey and Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee. The FBI director confirmed there was an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign's relationship with Russian interference in the 2016 election, but did not disclose any details of the probe, according to NBC News.
Comey was asked whether there was any information to support Trump's assertions on social media that the Obama administration had conducted illegal surveillance against him.
On March 4, Trump took to Twitter to accuse Obama of ordering a wiretap of Trump Tower, his residence and main business office in Manhattan
"Terrible!" Trump tweeted. "Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
Comey stated that there was no evidence to back up Trump's accusation.
"I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," Comey said, according to The Washington Post. "The Department of Justice ... has no information that supports those tweets."
Comey noted that any wiretap of a U.S. citizen must be approved by a court and granted a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act if there is evidence that any subject of surveillance could be a potential agent of a foreign power.
"So no individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone," Comey said. Asked if Obama could have unilaterally ordered a wiretap on any citizen, the FBI director responded, "No president could."
Comey declined to comment on whether a FISA warrant had been requested to surveil the Trump campaign, asserting, "I just can't talk about anything that relates to the [FISA] process in an open setting."
Meanwhile, Rogers was asked to verify whether the Obama administration had requested that the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, surveil the Trump campaign. White House press secretary Sean Spicer had leveled that accusation based on a report by Fox News. U.S. intelligence and the GCHQ are both members of the international Five Eyes surveillance alliance.
Rogers denied he had ever made such a request and noted that asking the GCHQ to spy on a U.S. citizen "would be expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes agreement that's been in place for decades."
The NSA director said that asking GCHQ to spy on the Trump campaign would have been illegal. He added that it was not helpful that the Trump administration would accuse British intelligence of committing illegal surveillance.
"I think it clearly frustrates a key ally of ours," Rogers said.
Since posting his tweet, Trump has not offered any evidence to support his accusation that Obama had wiretapped his campaign. Several GOP lawmakers have recently requested the president apologize to his predecessor.
"Frankly, unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, President Obama is owed an apology," Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said on March 17, according to CBS News.
On March 19, Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that the Trump administration should apologize to both Obama and GCHQ.
"It never hurts to say you're sorry," Hurd told ABC News. "And it's not just sorry to [Obama] but sorry to the [United Kingdom] for the claims -- or the intimation -- that the U.K. was involved in this as well."