WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer launched Thursday into a heated defense of President Donald Trump’s allegation that his predecessor had wiretapped him, saying reporters “perpetuate a false narrative” by cherry-picking quotes from Congress members probing the case.
“He stands by it,” Spicer said of Trump’s charge via Twitter that former President Barack Obama was surveilling his campaign last year.
The press secretary engaged in angry back-and-forth exchanges with TV news reporters in the White House briefing room just hours after Senate Intelligence Committee leaders became the latest Congress members to say they’ve seen no indication that the U.S. government made Trump Tower “subject of surveillance.”
Spicer read off a lengthy timeline that he said demonstrates the possibility that the Trump campaign was being monitored, quoting from New York Times and Fox News reports.
The White House has not produced evidence of any wiretapping, instead requesting reviews by congressional committees already investigating Russian interference into the U.S. presidential election.
Spicer insisted the case was not closed.
“The bottom line is that the investigation by the House and the Senate has not been provided all of the information,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and vice chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said, “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”
Their statement came a day after the top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said they had seen no evidence of wiretapping at Trump Tower.
Spicer noted that the Justice Department had requested a deadline extension to produce any documents pertinent to Trump’s wiretapping claim to the House committee.
He got some support from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been pressing the Justice Department to reveal whether it investigated, or is still probing, the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“I strongly believe that these statements by political leaders should not be a substitute for a public response from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice on this matter,” Graham said in a statement.
FBI Director James Comey will appear Monday in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.
Panel chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and the ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said they will ask him whether the FBI was surveilling Trump.
With Tom Brune