A Fox News analyst has asserted that former President Barack Obama asked British intelligence to surveil President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The assertion arrives a day after the Department of Justice requested an extension to provide evidence to Congress that would substantiate Trump's accusation that Obama had him wiretapped.
On March 14, former judge Andrew Napolitano asserted that three anonymous sources from the intelligence community had told him that the Obama administration had not spied on the Trump campaign through conventional American channels, but instead through the British intelligence organization GCHQ.
"Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command," Napolitano told Fox News. "He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI, and he didn't use the Department of Justice... He used the GCHQ."
Napolitano added that in this scenario, the Obama administration could have committed surveillance against the Trump campaign without leaving a digital paper trail.
"So by simply having two people go to them and say 'President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving Candidate Trump, conservations involving President-elect Trump', he's able to get it,'" Napolitano continued. "And there's no American fingerprints on this."
As an allied intelligence agency, GCHQ does have access to U.S. intelligence data-storage. Napolitano stated that the British intelligence organization has "24/7 access to the NSA database."
Napolitano's assertion requires further reporting to clarify or confirm. The news analyst's statement that the Obama administration was able to surveil the Trump campaign without leaving a digital footprint means that it would be difficult to prove or disprove.
The allegation that the Obama administration had spied on a presidential campaign first arrived when Trump took to social media on March 4 to assert that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing Found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump tweeted out.
The House Intelligence Committee has requested that the DOJ provide lawmakers with any evidence to substantiate Trump's accusation, NBC News reports.
On March 13, the DOJ missed a deadline set by the House committee, requesting that it be given more time "to determine what if any responsive documents may exist."
A spokesman for Obama had denied the accusation. Meanwhile, former national intelligence director James Clapper had denied that any wiretap of the Trump campaign took place while FBI Director James Comey requested that the DOJ publicly refute Trump's statement.
On March 13, White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated during a press conference that Trump was being more figurative than literal when he made his accusation.
"I think there's no question that the Obama administration that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election," Spicer said, according to CNN. "The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly surveillance and other activities."
The press secretary added "[Trump] doesn't really think that president went up and tapped his phones personally."