In a Friday court filing, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed that it had no evidence to back President Donald Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama, his predecessor, had Trump Tower wiretapped during the 2016 election campaign.
The court filing was a response to a freedom of information request from American Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog. In it, Justice Department lawyers said that neither the FBI nor the FBI’s national security division had any evidence to support Trump’s allegation against Obama.
“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.”
President Trump famously accused President Obama of ordering wiretaps on Trump Tower “just prior to [the] election” in a series of tweets in March. He made clear that he was serious about the allegation when he repeated the claim during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House that same month. In defense of his then-boss, Trump’s former press secretary, Sean Spicer, pointed to a Fox News report about the British spy agency, GCHQ, supposedly helping Obama wiretap Trump.
Later that month, former FBI Director James Comey asked the U.S. Justice Department to refute Trump’s claim. Trump fired Comey in May.
“FBI again confirmed that they do not have any such records by consulting with personnel knowledgable about Director Comey’s statements and the surveillance activities of the FBI,” the bureau’s lawyers wrote.
In his testimony before congress earlier this year, Comey addressed Trump’s wiretap allegation, saying that neither he, nor the FBI had any evidence to support it.
“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
“The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components, the department has no information that supports those tweets,” he added, as reported by the HuffPost.
In response to the DOJ and the FBI, American Oversight released a statement saying that the government’s court filing only serves as further proof that Trump was lying when he tweeted that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower and that the president’s words “simply cannot be trusted.”
The group also asserted that the filing proves that President Trump’s own Department of Justice must have misgivings about his credibility on critical points of the Russia investigation. Trump is currently at the center of multiple investigations into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. One of these investigations is being led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was appointed after Trump fired Comey.
This week, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that he had received an email in January, 2016, from Michael Cohen, a Trump adviser. Cohen was supposedly seeking help from the Russians in advancing stalled plans for a Trump Tower skyscraper in Moscow. Reuters reports that the Putin spokesman did not discuss the email’s content with the Russian president. During his campaign, President Trump repeatedly asserted that he had no business ties to Russia.
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