The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee said the FBI had found no evidence to support Donald Trump’s assertion that Trump Tower was monitored by his predecessor, adding to a chorus of Republican lawmakers who have rejected the president’s unsubstantiated claim.
“Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No,” Devin Nunes told Fox News on Sunday. He added that no warrants had been issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Obama administration would have needed to conduct the wiretap.
“There was no Fisa warrant that I’m aware of to Trump — to tap Trump Tower. That’s correct,” Mr Nunes said.
Mr Nunes’ comment was echoed by the Republican Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican on the armed services committee.
Asked by CNN whether any evidence supported Mr Trump’s wiretapping claim, Mr Cotton replied: “Not that I have seen and not that I’m aware of.”
“We have not seen evidence that you just described,” Mr Ryan told Fox, referring to the president’s claims.
Mr Trump has refused to back down from his claim that he was put under surveillance by Mr Obama’s administration during the election campaign, suggesting that information would soon be released that vindicated him. He joked in a joint press conference with Angela Merkel on Friday that wiretapping by the previous government was something that he and the German leader had “in common” – a reference to WikiLeaks’ 2013 revelations that the National Security Agency had monitored the chancellor’s phone calls.
On Monday, Mr Nunes’ committee will question James Comey, director of the FBI, over the status of the agency’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election – bringing further attention to the Russia issue.
Mr Nunes said his committee had seen “no evidence” thus far that demonstrated collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, but that it welcomed the opportunity to grill Mr Comey on Moscow’s role in the campaign.
“We’re excited about this because for the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses,” Mr Nunes said.
Meanwhile, Democrats are using the opportunity of Mr Comey’s testimony to hammer the Trump administration on any potential links with Moscow.
On Sunday, Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said it was important not to “prejudice” the investigation – but claimed that it was hard to ignore the many links that Trump officials appeared to have to people in Moscow.
“I would characterise it this way: at the outset of the investigation, there was circumstantial evidence of collusion. There was direct evidence, I think, of deception. And that’s where we begin the investigation,” Mr Schiff, a Democrat from California, told NBC’s Meet The Press.
“Now I don’t want to prejudge where we ultimately end up, and of course, there’s one thing to say there’s evidence. There’s another thing to say we can prove this or prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, or there’s enough evidence to bring to a grand jury for purposes of criminal indictment. But there was certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation,” he said.
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