GCHQ rubbishes claims it wiretapped Trump during presidential campaign
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 18, 2017,
Mar 18, 2017, 15:32
The White House tried to soothe an angry Britain after suggesting that President Barack Obama used London's spy agency to conduct secret surveillance on President Donald Trump while he was a candidate a year ago.
However, the Western diplomat confirmed that Spicer was very apologetic when confronted by Darroch at a White House dinner on Thursday.
Asked by a reporter whether the subject of GCHQ's alleged involvement had raised between the two governments and whether it would affect the so-called "special relationship" between the US and the U.K., Spicer backtracked.
U.S. Officials described the conversation as "cordial". Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta if there was an apology by the administration to the British government over the matter, Spicer replied, "No, we were just passing on news reports". Spicer and McMaster both said that Spicer was simply pointing to public reports and not endorsing any specific story, the official said.
This claim was not based on conclusive intelligence, but, rather, on Trump's wild extrapolations from news reports he misread.
Spicer had cited a Fox News report that claimed British intelligence agencies helped the Obama administration to wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign period.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited claims made on US TV channel Fox News earlier this week by political commentator Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge.
In the Fox report - which came nearly two weeks later - Andrew Napolitano claimed that "three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command" to order the tap.
Then, at a regular press briefing, Downing Street said it had sought and received reassurances that the allegations would not be repeated.
The former Deputy Director for Intelligence and Cyber Operations at GCHQ, Brian Lords, dismissed the claims as another example of "fake news".
Privately a source told Sky News the agency was "furious" the claims had been made. "We've received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated", a spokesperson for the British Prime Minster Theresa May said, according to CNN.
The GCHQ quickly and vehemently denied the contention in a rare statement issued by the spy agency on Thursday, calling the assertions "nonsense" and "utterly ridiculous".
Considering that the president has (essentially) admitted that he doesn't have any evidence to support it either, you'd think the White House would throw in the towel.
May's spokesman argued this pact precluded the kind of spying alleged by Napolitano, saying: "I would add as a matter of fact that under the "Five Eyes" intelligence agreement, we can not use each other's capabilities to circumvent the law".
Q. Have there been any other incidents involving Mr Trump and United Kingdom intelligence services?
"The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential can not be overstated", tweeted Susan Rice, former national security advisers for the Obama administration.
Spicer quoted Napolitano's claims in a bid to strengthen Trump's suggestion that Obama had tapped his phones past year.
He said the President "stands by" his claim, but no evidence has yet been produced to back it up.