Politics ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:

Citing no evidence, Trump accuses Obama of tapping his phones during the election

 (Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)
(Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)

President Trump accused the Obama administration of wiretapping his phones during the 2016 election, an escalation of tit-for-tat allegations between Trump and Democrats as pressure mounts for an independent investigation into Trump's ties to Russia.

Trump cited no evidence that former President Obama deployed what Trump described as a "Nixon/Watergate" effort to monitor his campaign.

"Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found," Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday, adding: "This is McCarthyism!"

It would be highly unusual for a sitting president to be aware of such requests. By blaming Obama directly, Trump accused the former president of reaching into a federal investigation and signing off on an illegal wiretap, which is a felony.

"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 wrote in a series of four tweets.

If federal investigators did monitor Trump's phones or computers lawfully, a court would have demanded information about potential criminal misconduct or unlawful foreign contacts. Such investigations are closely held and rarely, if ever, shared with the White House.

It is also possible Trump has no evidence his phones were tapped and is repeating unfounded reports circulating in conservative media circles.

The suggestion that Obama ordered surveillance on Trump is "false," said a spokesman for Obama in response to Trump's tweets.

"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," Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president said in a statement.

"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen," Lewis said. "Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."

Trump has pushed back hard against accusations his campaign had improper contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

U.S. intelligence officials concluded in January that Russia had launched covert actions and cyberhacking to damage Hillary Clinton's candidacy and help Donald Trump win. But it is unclear if those actions were coordinated with people in Trump's inner circle.

In the meantime, a pattern of Trump officials downplaying their contact with Russia has stirred calls for further investigation.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions did not disclose meeting Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak when asked about contacts with Russians during his Senate confirmation hearing. On Thursday, Sessions recused himself from any potential investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned last month when it was disclosed that he had misled Trump administration officials about conversations with Kislyak about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Latest updates

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
68°