President Trump says news reports were origin of unsubstantiated wiretap claim

In his first interview since his unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by former President Obama, President Trump said the sources of information behind his tweets were primarily news reports.

“Well, I’ve been reading about things,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that aired Wednesday night.

Trump said among “other things” that he read about wiretapping was a New York Times article and a Fox News report.

“I said, wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about,” Trump said. “I’ve been seeing a lot of things.”

But the examples put forward by Trump don’t appear to back up his claim that President Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower.

The New York Times article he is referencing never claimed Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower and Fox News never independently reported the story.

The president said that while he didn’t want to discuss it, the White House “will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn’t been submitted as of yet.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier Wednesday that he didn’t think “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

Trump raised the possibility that he would speak about his claim in the next week, perhaps before the committee goes public with any findings.

“I mean, let’s see whether or not I prove it,” Trump said. “But I think we have some very good stuff. And we’re in the process of putting it together, and I think it’s going to be very demonstrative.”

 

Asked why he wouldn’t just approach the intelligence agencies to verify whether his claim is true, Trump said he didn’t “want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.”

Trump repeated some of the clarifying comments made by his press secretary Sean Spicer, saying his tweets about wiretaps were “in quotes” and thus meant surveillance in a broader sense.

“And don’t forget, when I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes,” Trump said. “That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing.”

But only two of the four tweets by the president related to wiretapping included the phrase in quotes.

The issue is sure to come up again soon, as FBI Director Comey is expected to be asked publicly about the veracity of Trump’s claims when he testifies to the House Intelligence Committee next Monday.

Via Alexander Mallin, ABC News

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