WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice is under pressure to provide any documents related to President Donald Trump’s accusation — presented so far without evidence — that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign.
The House Intelligence Committee has set a Monday deadline for the DOJ to provide the evidence, a source familiar with the matter said, and has sent letters throughout the intelligence community this week to obtain records related to Russia.
Former President Barack Obama has denied the allegations through a spokesman, and his former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, also has publicly refuted them.
Sources have said FBI Director James Comey also pushed back against Trump’s claim.
Trump has not publicly provided any evidence for his allegations, first made more than a week ago.
One of Trump’s top advisers, Kellyanne Conway, suggested to the Bergen Record on Sunday that there could have been even wider spying, including the use of microwaves and TV sets.
Like the president, she did not provide any evidence, and later said she was speaking generally about surveillance.
Conway spoke Monday and invoked a classic cartoon character to clarify her remarks.
“I’m not Inspector Gadget,” she said. “I don’t believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. However, I’m not in the job of having evidence. That’s what investigations are for.
“I’ve said many, many times throughout the week that the president is pleased that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have agreed with him that this should be part of the investigation that already exists about Russia and the campaign.
“And the investigation that, apparently, has gone nowhere so far. I mean every single day on this network and others, people are screaming about Russia and the campaign, and to what avail? Where is the evidence?”
As Congress’ deadline looms, calls for Trump to produce evidence have grown louder, including by some in his own party.
“The president has one of two choices: Either retract or provide the information that the American people deserve,” Sen. John McCain said Sunday. “I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the President of the United States could clear this up in a minute.”
Two congressmen privy to sensitive intelligence information said this weekend that they, too, had no information currently to support Trump’s claims.
The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said on ABC’s “This Week”: “I don’t expect we’ll see evidence of this.”
And House Speaker Paul Ryan, asked directly on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” if he had seen evidence of the wiretaps, said: “No.”
Conway said Sunday that “surveillance” could go beyond the tapping of phones.
“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway told the Record. “You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.”
She went on to allege that the spying could have been done with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” adding: “We know this is a fact of modern life.”
Conway also reiterated Trump’s request that an investigation into the wiretapping claims be included into a congressional investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
Pressed on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday morning about her comments to the Record, Conway said she was speaking about “surveilling generally” and “wasn’t making a suggestion about Trump Tower.”
“I have no evidence,” Conway said, “but that’s why there is an investigation in Congress.”
She later tweeted that the Record’s headline — “Kellyanne Conway suggests even wider surveillance of Trump campaign” — was “just wrong.”
“Response to Bergen Record was about surveillance articles in news & techniques generally, not about campaign. Headline just wrong,” Conway said.AlertMe