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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
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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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Video- USA Gears Up For Its Midterm Elections

Trump and Obama may never appear as opposing candidates on a ballot together, but they are facing off in a closely watched proxy battle in this year’s midterm campaign.

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MIdterm Elections
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

For former U.S. president Barack Obama, it must seem like old times. Obama has started to hit the campaign trail on behalf of Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections, setting up what amounts to a proxy battle with the man who succeeded him, President Donald Trump.

Trump already has been a fixture on the campaign trail on behalf of Republicans, convinced that aggressive efforts in Republican-leaning states will protect Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Obama’s initial foray into the 2018 congressional campaign came at the University of Illinois where he urged young Democrats to keep up the fight for social and economic justice.

“Each time we have gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back,” Obama said. “It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He is just capitalizing on resentment that politicians have been fanning for years.”

Get out the vote

Obama also campaigned in California on behalf of several Democratic House candidates, where he urged activists to turn out and vote in November.

“When we are not participating, when we are not paying attention, when we are not stepping up, other voices fill the void,” Obama told a Democratic gathering in Anaheim. “But the good news in two months, we have a chance to restore some sanity in our politics.”

Obama now finds himself competing against the man who succeeded him, President Trump, and who has vowed to undo much of what Obama did during his presidency.

Midterm Elections
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Illinois. VOA

Touting the economy

For his part, Trump has been eager to get out on the campaign trail and has promised a vigorous effort to energize Republican voters to keep their congressional majorities in November.

“This election is about jobs. It is safety and it is jobs,” Trump said at a recent Republican rally in Billings, Montana. “Thanks to Republican leadership, our economy is booming like never before in our history. Think of it, in our history. Nobody knew this was going to happen.”

Trump also is stoking fear among his Republican supporters that a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in November could lead to his impeachment.

“We will worry about that if it ever happens,” he told the crowd in Billings. “But if it does happen, it is your fault because you did not go out to vote. OK? You didn’t go out to vote.”

Midterm Elections
Supporters hold signs as President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va. VOA

Referendum on Trump

Midterm elections are historically unkind to sitting presidents. But unlike many of his predecessors, Trump has embraced the notion that the November congressional vote will be a referendum on his presidency.

Political analysts said that strategy carries both risk and reward.

“The enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle is really related to the president,” said George Washington University political scientist Lara Brown. “I think the last numbers I saw were that more than 40 percent of people who said that they would be very likely to vote were going to be either voting for the president or against the president in this midterm.”

Trump and Obama already have jousted over who should get credit for the strong U.S. economy. At his rallies, Trump touts economic growth and job creation numbers since he took over the presidency, arguing that the national economy is “booming like never before.”

Obama has offered some pushback on the campaign trail.

Midterm Elections
President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser in Fargo, N.D. VOA

“Let’s just remember when this recovery started,” Obama said in his Illinois speech, highlighting job growth during his White House years as part of the recovery from the 2008 recession.

Head-to-head battle

Like Trump, Obama also has proved to be a lightning rod for voters. The 44th president was effective in two presidential campaigns at turning out Democrats but was a drag on the party in his two midterm elections, spurring Republicans to turn out against him.

During this year’s midterm, Obama is likely to focus on mobilizing women, younger activists and nonwhite voters, key parts of the Democratic coalition that helped him win the White House in 2008 and 2012.

Also Read: Trump Needs Obama For Dealing With North Korea, Said Jon Wolfsthal

“That enthusiasm is there throughout the Democratic Party and across demographic groups,” said Brookings Institution scholar John Hudak. “And for the first time many voters are going to see options on their ballot that look and sound and talk about issues in different ways, and that is always something that is appealing to a voter base.”

Trump and Obama may never appear as opposing candidates on a ballot together, but they are facing off in a closely watched proxy battle in this year’s midterm campaign where party control of Congress is at stake. (VOA)