Clapper Denies His Agencies Monitored Trump; Panetta Alleges White House Obfuscation
WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today advised the Trump administration to get ahead of the Russia issue instead of trying to "obfuscate," stressing "it is going to be the truth that will determine what is involved here, and not tweets, but the truth."
As additional individuals connected with the administration and Trump campaign last week admitted meeting with a Russian envoy during campaign season, including at the Republican National Convention where the party platform was changed to discourage arming Ukraine, President Trump accused the Obama administration of spying on him.
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump tweeted Saturday. "Is it legal for a sitting President to be 'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"
"I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!" he continued. "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN this morning, "I'm not sure what it is he is talking about."
"Perhaps the president has information that is not yet available to us or to the public," he said. "And, if it's true, obviously, we're going to find out very quickly. And, if it isn't, then, obviously, he'll have to explain what he meant by it."
Reports around the time of the election indicated that the FBI had sought and potentially received a FISA warrant to monitor individuals in the Trump campaign associated with Russia in connection with a financial investigation.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told NBC this morning that as far as his agencies, "there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign."
Asked if there was a FISA order to monitor Trump Tower, Clapper replied, "Not to my knowledge."
"I can't speak for other authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity," he added.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement this morning saying "reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling."
"President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016," Spicer said. "Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted."