Top Dem on House intel panel hopes Comey ends ‘wild goose chase’ over Trump wiretap claims

March 20
21:44 2017

The leaders of the House Intelligence Committee continue to say they have seen no proof of President Trump’s explosive, evidence-free claim that former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower before the 2016 presidential election.

“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the bipartisan committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And the information on Friday continues to lead us in that direction.”

“We are at the bottom. There is nothing at the bottom,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the committee’s ranking Democrat, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What the president said was just patently false, and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our Germany allies.”

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, another member of the committee, said Trump ought to apologize if he can’t offer proof of his claims.

“It never hurts to say you’re sorry,” Hurd said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “I think it helps with our allies. We’ve got to make sure that we’re all working together. We live in a very dangerous world, and we can’t do this alone.”

Their comments come a day before FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify before the committee about the bureau’s probe into Russian interference in the election.

Schiff said he expects Comey’s testimony will definitively put an end to Trump’s wiretap allegations.

“I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase,” Schiff said.

Trump leveled the claim against his predecessor on Twitter earlier this month.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump declared.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he added.

Obama’s office categorically denied the charge that the former president had been involved in ordering any wiretapping.

“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” a spokesman for the former president said in a statement. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Trump refused to provide proof when given the chance last week, telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he has “some very good stuff,” that the White House is “in the process of putting it together” and that “it’s going to be very demonstrative.”

Trump also repeated White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s argument that the president wasn’t specifically referring to wiretapping when he tweeted it.

“Don’t forget, when I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes,” Trump said. “That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing. But wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Trump also said he may or may not address the subject before or after the committee concludes its investigation.

“Let’s see whether or not I prove it,” Trump said. “I just don’t choose to do it right now.”

The president added, “Maybe I’ll do it before the committee. Maybe I’ll do it before I see the result of the committee. But I think we have some very good stuff.”

Meanwhile, Nunes said the committee has not seen definitive evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“I’ll give you a very simple answer: No,” Nunes said. “Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning. No evidence of collusion.”

Earlier this month, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, said he had not seen any evidence that such collusion existed while he oversaw the work of U.S. intelligence agencies under Obama.

Schiff disagreed.

“I was surprised to see Director Clapper say that, because I don’t think you can make that claim categorically as he did,” Schiff said. “I would characterize it this way at the outset of the investigation: There is circumstantial evidence of collusion. There is direct evidence, I think, of deception, and that’s where we begin the investigation.”

“There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation,” he added. “The American people have a right to know, and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more.”

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, another committee member, said that a conclusion on collusion has not been reached.

“That’s still being investigated,” Castro said on “This Week.” “No conclusion one way or another.”

Read more from Yahoo News:

  • Schiff: Trump may have discussed classified info on Fox News
  • ‘Microwaves that turn into cameras’: Kellyanne Conway defends Trump claim
  • Former Obama chief of staff: The president did not order a wiretap
  • House intel committee chairman: ‘We don’t have any evidence’
  • At Bernie Sanders’ town hall, America’s opioid crisis goes on dark display

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