The Justice Department might be investigating President Trump. Or it might not.
"No comment" is the department's official statement on the matter, reports The New York Times.
It all began on March 4, when Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election. Trump tweeted: "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
As widely reported, the FBI is investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and whether anyone in the Trump administration may have known about it.
However, there was no indication that Trump himself is being investigated -- that is, until his tweet raised that possibility, since any wiretapping could have been part of an investigation targeting him personally.
On March 8, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer contradicted what Trump implied in his tweet, telling reporters that "there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice."
Spicer's answer prompted an anonymous response the following day from a Justice Department official, who said that Spicer had not consulted the department on the matter, and was therefore not in a position to know whether or not an investigation was taking place.
A few hours later, Spicer revised his previous statement by admitting that the White House does not know whether or not the president is being investigated by the Justice Department.
"I said I’m not aware and we’re not aware and that’s why we want the House and Senate to do what the president has asked of them, to look into this," he said.
When asked to explain the discrepancy between his two statements on the matter, Spicer offered the following explanation: "Right, I mean I don’t know that they’re not interchangeable. I’m not aware, I don’t believe. Look up in a thesaurus and find some other ways, but I don’t know that there’s a distinction there that’s noteworthy. But we’re not aware, I don’t believe that that exists."
A spokesman for Obama denied Trump’s allegation of wiretapping. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, also denied the charges.
The editorial board of The New York Times believes that "Mr. Trump has tweeted himself into a corner." Trump's allegation that he was illegally wiretapped by Obama might compel Congress to convene a bipartisan select committee to investigate possible Russian interference in the election, which could extend the investigation to President Trump himself.