White House qualifies surveillance charge

White House press secretary qualifies Trump allegation Obama "wiretapped" Trump Tower during 2016 election.

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Ben Ariel,

Sean Spicer
Sean Spicer
Reuters

The White House on Monday qualified President Donald Trump's recent allegation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in the Trump Tower during the 2016 election.

Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was not actually referring to wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping.

"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," he explained.

Spicer also stressed that Trump was referring to the Obama administration broadly, and not accusing Obama of personal involvement, when he tweeted that "Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower".

Trump asserted in a tweet last week, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The House intelligence committee has said it would look into Trump’s claims of wiretapping as part of an existing investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Spicer's comments on Monday came on the same say as the deadline for the Justice Department to provide evidence to the House Intelligence Committee to back up Trump's claim.

The White House has so far refused to provide any evidence, and numerous former officials have denied the existence of any warrant to wiretap Trump Tower, according to CNN.

On Sunday, Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ) urged Trump to come up with evidence proving that Obama wiretapped that the phones at Trump Tower or retract his claim.

“I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because, if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here, to say the least,” McCain said.