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News & Current Events Discuss Trump drags key foreign allies into controversy over unproven wiretap claims at the General Forum; This guy is an embarrassment yo our country. President Trumpís unproven allegation that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower in New ...

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Old 03-18-2017, 10:14 AM
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Default Trump drags key foreign allies into controversy over unproven wiretap claims

This guy is an embarrassment yo our country.

President Trumpís unproven allegation that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower in New York ahead of the election blazed a new path of political disruption Friday as he dragged two foreign allies into his increasingly thin argument that he is right.

Standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a White House news conference Friday afternoon, Trump declined to express regret for the accusation he tweeted nearly two weeks ago, despite some of the highest-ranking members of his own party saying they have seen no evidence that any such wiretapping occurred. Trump also passed on the opportunity to reject an unfounded report from a Fox News commentator asserting that British intelligence agents were involved in the alleged spying ó even though White House officials had just assured livid British leaders that they would no longer promote the claim.

ďAs far as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,Ē Trump said to Merkel, referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped the chancellorís phone in 2010 under President Barack Obama.

Merkel did not respond to Trumpís attempt at a joke.

The international incidents cap nearly two weeks of surreal debate over the presidentís apparently baseless accusation that Obama personally ordered the wiretapping of his Trump Tower campaign headquarters, consuming the time of not only White House staffers but also Congress, the Justice Department, the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

In the days since Trumpís tweets alleging the wiretapping were posted, the White House has called for a congressional investigation, declined to comment, dodged questions, pointed to media reports that donít contain the information aides say they do and analyzed the presidentís use of quotation marks ó all while doubling down on his claim without providing any evidence.

As aides jumped to defend their boss, they often seemed to invent evidence as they went. In one instance this week, counselor Kellyanne Conway said televisions or microwaves could have been used as surveillance cameras in Trump Tower ó a comment she later said was a joke.

In recent days, Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have said the presidentís allegations referred to broader surveillance efforts ó and not wiretapping specifically ó but they otherwise did not back off the initial claim.

Meanwhile, an Obama spokesman and several members of the Obama administration have publicly denied the accusation, and FBI Director James B. Comey reportedly urged the Justice Department to dispute it. In Congress, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other prominent leaders ó including all four top-ranking members of the two intelligence committees ó announced this week they had no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped.

[House intelligence panel does not reveal whether documents substantiate Trumpís claim]

Wiretaps in a foreign intelligence probe cannot legally be directed at a U.S. facility without probable cause ó reviewed by a federal judge ó that the phone lines or Internet addresses at the facility are being used by agents of a foreign power or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government. Furthermore, no president can legally order such a wiretap.

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