FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Donald Trump’s assertion that former President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Trump’s phones, senior American officials told The New York Times on Sunday.
Comey argued that Trump’s claim is false and must be corrected, they added, but the department has not released any such statement.
Comey reportedly made the request on Saturday after Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter. He has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law, the officials said.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
Obama on Saturday denied Trump's claim about the wiretapping. An Obama spokesperson said, "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."
"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen."
Obama Foreign Policy Adviser Ben Rhodes said, "No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you."
On Sunday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called for congressional action in the matter.
Following that request, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes promised to look into the claims.
Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said the probe of the president’s allegation would be wrapped into an existing investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign.