James Clapper, the director of national intelligence from 2010 until January 2017, said on Sunday that he was not aware of any wiretapping of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election or before he took office, as Trump has alleged.
In early morning tweets on Saturday, Trump accused Obama of ordering the wiretapping of phones in Trump Tower weeks before the election, without providing evidence of such an act.
The White House issued a statement on Sunday asking Congress to look into “whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016” as part of the larger investigation digging into ties between Trump’s inner circle and Russian operatives.
Clapper told NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” that in his purview as head the US intelligence community, he could deny that there was a request for a wiretap. The Guardian had reported in January that the FBI allegedly requested a warrant from a FISA court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance) in October to monitor Trump campaign officials who were suspected of improper ties to the Russian government.
“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said.
He also welcomed the bipartisan, independent investigation that the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting into Russia’s actions, saying it could “look at this from a broader context” than the intelligence agencies could.
Clapper added that, in the report the intelligence agencies compiled in the fall on Russia meddling in the US election, there was no evidence that the Trump campaign illegally conspired with Russian operatives.
“We did not include any evidence in our report — and I say, ‘our,’ that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence — that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians,” he said. “There was no evidence of that included in our report.”
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