The White House has asked Congress to criminally investigate Barack Obama for unlawfully wiretapping Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
According to Trump, the Obama administration abused their executive power as part of a phoney investigation into Russian hacking during the election, with the sole purpose of trying to make Trump lose the presidential race.
In response, Obama issued a statement on Saturday claiming that he did not directly order the wiretapping himself:
A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance of any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.
It is interesting to note that Barack Obama’s response does not deny the wiretapping happened.
The statement hints than any order to wiretap Donald Trump’s office was the work of officials in the Justice Department, hinting that Obama will seek to shift the blame when he is called to testify in Congress.
The White House request released on Sunday was directed to “congressional intelligence committees” and required them to “exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) March 5, 2017
(1/4) Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) March 5, 2017
The statement added that no further comments on the issue would come from either the White House or the president.
The request comes a day after US President Donald Trump accused his predecessor of ordering the wiretapping of his phones during the election campaign.
The accusation apparently refers to the reported surveillance of two Russian banks authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as part of the investigation of the alleged Russian meddling. The initial FBI request specifically targeted four members of the Trump campaign but was rejected by the FISC, so the agency filed a new request that targeted the banks instead.
Wiring taps are possible without the Presidents knowledge. Both Trump and Obama could be telling the truth…
— Ed Schultz (@NewswithEd) March 5, 2017
James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, reiterated the rejection of the wiretapping allegations on Sunday.
“There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press, after the White House statement was released.
Clapper added that as intelligence director, he would have known about a “FISA court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it.”
Trump’s alleged Russian connection, which the president denies, is a recurring accusation of his critics. General Michael Flynn was forced to resign less than a month after being appointed national security adviser due to his contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is currently under attack for failing to mention his meetings with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation hearing.