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‘I Have No Evidence to Support President Donald Trump Wiretap Claim’: White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway

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Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway is interviewed by Howard Kurtz during a taping of his "MediaBuzz" program on the Fox News Channel, in New York Friday, March 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) VOA

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says she has no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama ordered the phones tapped at the Trump Tower hotel in New York.

In an interview broadcast on CNN early Monday, Conway said, “I’m not in the job of having evidence. That’s what investigations are for.”

When questioned by CNN host Chris Cuomo, Conway did not say whether the White House would meet a Monday deadline set by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee for submitting evidence supporting Trump’s claim, which he made on Twitter more than a week ago.

After her Monday morning TV appearance, Conway tweeted, “we are pleased the House/Senate Intel Committees are investigating & will comment after.”

Neither the White House nor senior intelligence officials have offered any information that would indicate any wiretapping took place, and an Obama spokesman has called the allegation “simply false.”

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff of California, told ABC News Sunday he does not to see any evidence.

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“Either the president made up this charge,” he said, “or perhaps more disturbing, the president actually believes this.”

McCain speaks out

On Sunday, Senator John McCain of Arizona told CNN, “The president has one of two choices: either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve. Because if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we’ve got a serious issue here, to say the least.”

McCain said he has “no reason to believe the charges are true.”

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) VOA

Under U.S. law, a president cannot order someone’s phone to be wiretapped. He would need approval by a federal judge and would have to show reasonable grounds to suspect why a citizen’s telephone calls should be monitored, such as if he were suspected of criminal wrongdoing. The White House said last week that Trump is not under criminal investigation.

The wiretap charges are part of congressional investigations into the details behind the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state. The probes are also looking into Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials before and after the November vote.

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U.S. intelligence concluded Russia hacked into the computer of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks then releasing thousands of his emails in the weeks before the election. The emails showed embarrassing behind-the-scenes efforts by Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the party’s presidential nomination.

‘A lot of shoes to drop’

McCain, the losing 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said “there’s a lot of shoes to drop” about information between Trump associates and Russia.

McCain said he was troubled by his own party removing a provision from its political platform last year that called for a U.S. dispatch of defensive weapons to Ukraine to help in Kyiv’s fight against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Clearly, it was not the will of most Republicans,” McCain said. “There’s a lot of aspects with this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny and, so far, I don’t think the American people have gotten all the answers.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump Interviews Indian American Judge Under Consideration

However, other factors such as immigration, the powers of the president and any possible litigation involving the 2016 election of Trump and the alleged Russian interference are at play.

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Earlier on Monday, Trump appointed his Deputy Principal Press Secretary Raj Shah to a key role in the difficult process of getting his nominee for the Supreme Court approved by the Senate. VOA

Indian American federal appeals court judge Amul Thapar has emerged as a “serious” contender for a spot in the US Supreme court and has been interviewed for the position by President Donald Trump, according media reports.

He was one of four judges interviewed for the position on the nation’s highest court by Trump on Monday, according to The Washington Post and other media outlets that quoted unnamed sources who had been briefed about the meetings.

Trump’s Spokesperson Sarah Sanders confirmed that he met for 45 minutes with four candidates, but would not identify them.

Trump has said he would announce his pick next Monday.

Thapar was appointed by Trump last year to the federal Sixth Circuit Appeals Court based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that covers four states including his home state of Kentucky.

Considered a conservative, Thapar, 49, had served as a federal prosecutor before President George W. Bush appointed him a judge of the federal court for Eastern Kentucky by in 2007.

Thapar has the backing of Mitch McConnell, the influential Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky, for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last month.

“I think he’s absolutely brilliant, with the right temperament,” McConnell said on Saturday.

The Washington Post said Trump’s meeting with Thapar “was described by several White House aides as both a gesture of respect for the Senate GOP leader and evidence that he is in serious contention”.

He is the second Indian-American judge to be a leading contender for the Supreme Court showing the community’s reach across both parties and its influence.

Washington Appeals Court Judge Sri Srinivasan was among the top choices considered by then President Barack Obama for the Supreme Court in 2016.

Obama ultimately picked Merrick Garland but McConnell blocked the nomination refusing to take it up for Senate’s consideration citing the presidential election coming up later that year.

Earlier on Monday, Trump appointed his Deputy Principal Press Secretary Raj Shah to a key role in the difficult process of getting his nominee for the Supreme Court approved by the Senate.

“Raj Shah will oversee communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies,” Sanders said in a statement.

Legalised abortion that many countries like India take for granted is looming over the selection of the next Supreme Court judge, with many Senators making it the litmus test to vote for or against a nominee.

It is likely that a case involving abortions may come up before the Supreme Court leaving open the possibility a conservative majority bench could overturn its 1973 ruling legalising it.

During his election campaign Trump changed his stance and came out as an opponent of abortions and said that he would appoint judges with the same view.

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Raj Thapar told the newspaper that his son’s only dream was to become a Supreme Court Justice. Pixabay

But he said last week that he would not discuss with candidates their views on abortion.

The Republicans have slender two-vote lead in the 100-member Senate and at least one Senator from the party, Susan Collins, has said that keeping abortions legal would be a requirement for supporting the Trump nominee and another, Lisa Murkowski, has previously opposed efforts to overturn the 1973 ruling.

The 49 Democrats and the two independents are all expected to oppose any Trump nominee and Shah will have to work with Republicans in Congress to get a majority backing for the candidate.

However, other factors such as immigration, the powers of the president and any possible litigation involving the 2016 election of Trump and the alleged Russian interference are at play.

Thapar is widely considered to conservative in his approach, which aligns him with Trump and his base.

His father, Raj Thapar, told Courier Journal that his son is so conservative that he “nearly wouldn’t speak to me after I voted for Barack Obama.”

Thapar was born in Detroit and his family wanted him to become a doctor, but he chose law instead, the newspaper said.

Raj Thapar told the newspaper that his son’s only dream was to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Amul’s maternal grandfather had impressed on him how Mahatma Gandhi had defeated the British using non violence, Raj Thapar told the newspaper.

According his father, Amul had converted to Catholicism when he married Kim Schulte, a real estate agent, Courier Journal reported.

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During his election campaign Trump changed his stance and came out as an opponent of abortions and said that he would appoint judges with the same view. Pixabay

Thapar’s mother Veena Bhalla sold a successful restaurant after 9/11 to work as a civilian clinical social worker to help soldiers returning from the battlefield, the newspaper reported quoting McConnell.

Also Read: Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi Urges Indians To Report To Any Instance of Salary Delay

According to Thapar’s bio for a convention of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association his father had come to the US to study and after graduating went to work for Ford Motor Company.

Later, he bought a share of a heating and air conditioning company. (IANS)