President Donald Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama ordered his phones to be tapped is “simply false”, the former president’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, has said.
Kevin Lewis said that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen”.
President Trump had tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
The president gave no details to back the claim.
In his statement, Kevin Lewis said 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”.
The statement left open the possibility that a judicial investigation was taking place.
Earlier Ben Rhodes, who was President Obama’s foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, also addressed Donald Trump’s claims in a tweet, saying: “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”
Donald Trump, who is at his Florida resort, fired off a series of tweets from just after 06:30 local time on March 4.
The president called the alleged tapping “a new low” and said “This is Nixon/Watergate” – referring to the most notorious political scandal of 1972, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon after a web of political spying, sabotage and bribery was exposed by the media.
McCarthyism, which Donald Trump referred to in one of the first posts, relates to the persecution for US Communists and their allies led by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.
The tweets followed allegations made by conservative radio host Mark Levin, which were later picked up by Breitbart News, the website run by Steve Bannon before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
Mark Levin said there should be a congressional investigation into what he called President Obama’s “police state” tactics in his last months in office to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign.
Breitbart summarizes Mark Levin’s accusations, which say that “the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA (National Security Agency) rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government”.
President Trump has come under constant pressure from FBI and congressional investigations into alleged contacts between his aides and Russian officials during the election campaign.