The Trump administration has quietly backed away from Donald Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama wiretapped him, admitting in a court filing that there is no evidence to support that claim.
Trump drew considerable criticism for claiming that Obama had wiretapped him prior to the 2016 election. The president appeared to be responding to a report that former campaign official Carter Page was under a FISA warrant, but there was no evidence that Obama had ordered surveillance on Trump, and Trump never offered any.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Trump wrote in a tweet in March, 2017. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Now, a new court filing released late Friday night from the Department of Justice admitted that it found no evidence to back Trump’s claim. As the legal blog Law and Crime noted, the admission came in response to a request from a journalist about what evidence there might be to back Donald Trump’s accusation against Barack Obama.
“First, the Department of Justice acknowledged, based upon the Congressional testimony of then-FBI Director James B. Comey, that it has no records of alleged wiretapping of then-candidate Trump in Trump Tower by the Obama administration prior to the 2016 presidential election, as referenced in President Trump’s Twitter post on March 4, 2017.”
The Department of Justice had already announced there was no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump during the campaign, and this week’s development was released without much fanfare. It did generate some headlines as apparent confirmation that Trump’s claim was baseless.
Since Donald Trump’s initial claim, it was revealed that the FBI did wiretap former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. As CNN reported, the surveillance began after Manafort left Trump’s campaign in August, 2016.
“By then the FBI had noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates and Russia,” the report noted. “The CIA also had developed information, including from human intelligence sources, that they believed showed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to conduct a broad operation to meddle with the U.S. election, according to current and former U.S. officials.”
Many claimed that this report vindicated Donald Trump for his claim that he was wiretapped, including many conservatives who backed Trump’s initial claim. But the surveillance on Manafort was not in Trump Tower, as Trump had claimed, and was approved through a system of judges that prevent political interference and was not ordered by Obama, The Atlantic reported.