British spy agency denies 'utterly ridiculous' Trump wiretap claims
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 18, 2017,
Mar 18, 2017, 4:29
The White House apologized for suggesting a British intelligence agency was involved in spying on President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, a USA official said Friday.
President Donald Trump sidestepped a question about allegations a British intelligence agency helped former President Barack Obama wiretap Trump Tower on Friday and suggested reporters speak to Fox News about the claim.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for GCHQ said: "Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct "wiretapping" against the then-president elect are nonsense". But after Spicer's comments rankled British officials and Prime Minister Theresa May, he met with Britain's ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch Thursday evening.
When pressed for further evidence, Spicer chastised the media for focusing so much attention on comments disparaging Trump's claim about surveillance. We have a close relationship which allows us to raise concerns when they arise, as was true in this case.
"Trump is compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment", he said.
Nevertheless, Spicer said, "Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command", during a press conference yesterday (March 16).
During a media briefing at the White House on Thursday, Mr Spicer drew reporters' attention to comments made earlier this week on Fox News by former judge Andrew Napolitano in relation to Mr Trump's controversial claim that his NY residence had been bugged.
Britain's intelligence agency called allegations that it wiretapped President Trump during the US election campaign, "utterly ridiculous" claims "that should be ignored".
Britain and the United States - along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand - are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing alliance forged from the embers of World War II.
Trump had brought up the wiretapping claim early in March when he tweeted - Trump's preferred way of releasing statements - "Terrible!"
"Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016", committee chair Richard Burr said. He said reporters have not focused enough on comments from officials denying evidence of any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
Trump appeared to back away from his accusation of literal wiretapping in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night.
Spicer quoted at length from a Fox News report, which alleged Obama had used GCHQ to dodge USA legal restrictions on monitoring U.S. citizens. "I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks", Trump said.