Obama irked and exasperated in response to Trump's wiretapping claims, sources say

But people close to both men acknowledge that the bitterness of the presidential campaign, paired with Trump's longstanding antagonism toward Obama regarding his birth certificate, would make a close relationship improbable.

Proceeding Trump's tweets, Obama's representative released a statement about the wiretapping.

Trump labeled Obama a "bad or sick guy" in his tweets accusing him of using his executive power to wiretap Trump Tower during the final stretch of the campaign.

"We'd like to know for sure", Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, told NBC's "Today" show.

"We should be able to determine in short order whether this accusation is true or false", said Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

The source said Comey was concerned that the allegation would make the Federal Bureau of Investigation look bad, and that concern was part of what prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to have his staff reach out to staff at the Department of Justice asking them to knock down the allegation.

Similarly, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee in a letter to Comey asked to be briefed on Trump's claim as well as claims of Russian interference with the election - which would include allegations that Trump's campaign was in contact with Russian officials.

Walker did not say if he believed Trump's claim.

In the aftermath of that tweet, everyone from Obama to FBI Director James B. Comey to former director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. insisted that Trump's claim was without merit, that no wiretap of Trump Tower had ever been approved by the Obama administration.

When asked why Trump needed an investigation if he already possessed the evidence, Spicer said the president wanted to respect the "separation of powers" - and would remain silent until investigators finished their work.

First, Trump appears to be trying to defend his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, again by saying the Obama administration was the one that set up the "first meeting" between Sessions and the Russian ambassador.

That led to an succession of frantic staff conference calls, including one consultation with the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, as staffers grasped the reality that the President had opened an attack on his predecessor. "I think we've tried to play this game before". Later in the day, an Obama spokesman said "neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any USA citizen".

Compounding the situation was the revelation last week that former US senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an early Trump campaign supporter, had met twice with the Russian ambassador but didn't disclose that to lawmakers when he was asked about it during his Senate confirmation hearing. The Justice Department would have to apply for a warrant and seek a court order - all of which would create an easily traceable paper trail.

  • Zachary Reyes