WHITE HOUSE, March 14, 2017: 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.”
1/2: On wiretap claims, I have said many times that we are pleased the House/Senate Intel Committees are investigating & will comment after
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) March 13, 2017
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.”
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.”