Washington: A spokesman for Barack Obama on Saturday rejected claims from US President Donald Trump that the former president had wiretapped him in October during the late stages of the presidential election campaign.
“Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement. Trump had suggested Obama had improperly tapped his phones, without citing evidence, in a series of tweets on Saturday morning.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!,” Trump said in a series of tweets on his Twitter account early on Saturday. “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!”
Lewis also said that “a cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice.”
The statement raised the possibility that a wiretap of the Trump campaign could have been ordered by Justice Department officials.
The White House did not respond to a request to elaborate on Trump’s accusations.
A Trump spokeswoman said the Republican president is “having meetings, making phone calls and hitting balls” at his golf course in West Palm Beach. Earlier, former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes strongly denied Trump’s allegations.
“No president can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you,” Rhodes wrote on Twitter.
In one of the Tweets, Trump said the alleged wiretapping took place in his Trump Tower office and apartment building in New York, but there was “nothing found.”
Trump’s administration has come under pressure from Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional investigations into contacts between some members of his campaign team and Russian officials during his campaign.
Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and ordered Russian diplomats to leave the United States in December over the country’s involvement in hacking political parties in the Nov. 8 US presidential election.
Under US law, a federal court would have to have found probable cause that the target of the surveillance is an “agent of a foreign power” in order to approve a warrant authorizing electronic surveillance of Trump Tower.
Several conservative news outlets and commentators have made similar allegations about Trump being wiretapped during the campaign in recent days, without offering any evidence.
Trump has often used his Twitter account to attack rivals and for years led a campaign alleging that Obama was not born in the United States. He later retracted the allegation.