Donald Trump Accuses Obama of 'Wire-Tapping' His Office Before Election in Twitter Rant
Donald Trump has accused Barack Obama of “wire tapping” his offices in New York City before the presidential election in November last year, claiming the former president had overseen a “Nixon/Watergate”-style intervention.
Launching a series of tweets at 5.35am eastern time on Saturday morning, the US president said: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
He followed up that initial tweet with a string of others in the following 30 minutes that claimed Obama had defied a court rejection to tap his office, and invited a “good lawyer” to make a case against the alleged process.
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1488628140.0
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1488628374.0
The president then compared the alleged surveillance of his communications to Watergate – the scandal in the early 1970s that brought down Republican president Richard Nixon after he ordered a break-in of the Democrats’ Washington headquarters.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1488628968.0
Trump also made efforts to defend Jeff Sessions, the US attorney general facing questions over his meeting with the Russian ambassador to Washington during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
He tweeted: “The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs...” .
He added: “Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”
There was no additional information provided to substantiate the president’s claims that Obama had “wire tapped” Trump Tower, and it was not clear on what information Trump was basing the allegations.
There has been no response to the tweets from Obama.
The Trump administration has been on the back foot over its contacts with Russian officials before the president took office in January.
Last month the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations with the Russian ambassador to Washington and misleading statements about them to the press and the vice-president, Mike Pence.
This week it was revealed that Sessions had two meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, last year that he failed to disclose to senators in his confirmation hearing.
Sessions said on Friday he would recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election despite backing from Trump, who described the controversy as “a total witch hunt”.
Trump’s tweets follow claims made by conservative radio host Mark Levin on his Thursday night show about the alleged steps taken by the Obama administrationto undermine the Republican candidate’s campaign to win the White House.
The presenter called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and called for a congressional investigation into the issue. That contrasts with demands from across the US political spectrum to examine Russian interference in the presidential election.
Levin’s comments were followed up by Breitbart News, the “alt-right” website founded by Steve Bannon, who ran the Trump campaign and is now the president’s chief strategist.
The article stated: “The Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorisation to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA [National Security Agency] rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.”
The Breitbart report references recent claims that the FBI asked the foreign intelligence surveillance court for a warrant last year to monitor members of the Trump team suspected of being in contact with Russian officials.
The request for the warrant was initially rejected before being granted in October, the reports have said.