Donald Trump made headlines during Barack Obama’s eight years as President of the United States by joining the “birther” movement and criticizing the amount of vacation time Obama took. Weeks after becoming Obama’s successor, Trump’s penchant for hurling accusations at Obama continues in the form of Trump claiming Obama wiretapped phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election. Trump made the typo-laden claims via Twitter early Saturday morning.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted. He compared the alleged wiretapping to the Watergate scandals of the ’70s that ultimately led to then-President Richard Nixon’s impeachment. Trump has yet to provide any supporting evidence for his claims.
Kevin Lewis, spokesperson for Obama, released a statement calling Trump's accusations "simply false," and added that a "cardinal rule" of the former president's administration was that White House officials did not interfere in any way with independent investigations of the Department of Justice.
"As part of that practice," said Lewis, "neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false." However as many journalists and legal experts are pointing out on Twitter, the statement did not clarify whether surveillance of Trump Tower did or did not occur.
The 2016 presidential election was marked by what U.S. intelligence officials called an “influence campaign” led by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The incidents of hacking leading up to the election brought increased scrutiny on Trump’s relationship with Putin, and more recently, calls for a probe into Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ meeting with a Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign.
Sessions is the second of Trump’s cabinet appointees to come under fire for relations with Russia after Michael Flynn resigned from his post as National Security Advisor in mid-February.
Flynn resigned from his post after less than a month on the job after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about conversations with Sergey I. Kislyak, a Russian ambassador to the United States.