Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Life&Culture | By Ted Wilson

Trump stands by claims Obama tapped his phones, despite denial by GCHQ

This was reportedly followed by a formal apology from a very sheepish Spicer and White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

Read that incredible statement again: Spicer is alleging that President Obama personally directed the activities of another sovereign nation's intelligence agencies to spy on Donald Trump.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said yesterday the Government had "received assurances" that Mr Spicer's claims would not be repeated. Spicer, speaking with reporters following Trump's news conference, said: "I don't think we regret anything".

"That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox, and so you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox. OK?"

Trump, who has stuck by his unsubstantiated assertion that Obama ordered his telephone tapped previous year despite across-the-board denials, wryly used Merkel's visit to repeat his contention. Trump said while standing by his initial charge that the previous United States administration eavesdropped on him. But I guess that's what has to happen when your network's in the middle of an global incident - enabled by the president of the United States, no less.

During the briefing, Spicer cited claims made earlier this week on Fox News by Napolitano. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.

GCHQ is the British equivalent of the National Security Agency and it usually remains tight-lipped on allegations related to intelligence matters - its normal practice is to neither confirm nor deny claims.

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Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said on Twitter Friday that "the cost of falsely blaming our closely ally for something this consequential can not be overstated".

Late on Friday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said: 'Fox News can not confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way, full stop".

GCHQ, based in western England, is one of three main British spy agencies alongside the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service and the MI5 Security Service.

Trump and the White House have come under scrutiny over the president's claim, which he first made on Twitter on March 4 without presenting evidence. The bipartisan committee issued a statement earlier this week to that effect, saying it sees "no indications" that Trump was wiretapped.

On Friday, eight-term Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Trump should apologize to Obama for making an unproven claim, the Associated Press reported. Flores did not comment on the contents of the report.

The Republican Trump, president since January 20, tweeted this month that his Democratic predecessor had wiretapped him during the late stages of the 2016 campaign.

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