After Donald Trump’s bombshell tweet this weekend, accusing the Obama Administration of bugging Trump Tower, former Obama officials have been quick to downplay the story. But now, their story seems to be unraveling.
So far, three Obama Administration have refused to outright deny that Trump was wiretapped—instead answering allegations with ultra-specific, legally-sanitized language.
Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, released a statement over the weekend saying that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.” But he refused to confirm or deny whether the Department of Justice—which reports to the President, and would be responsible for conducting wiretaps—did.
Similarly, Obama’s former press secretary, Josh Earnest, refused to deny that Trump was wiretapped.
In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Earnest repeated Lewis’s statement: that the White House had not ordered a wiretap on Trump, “categorically” denying that “the White House was at all involved in directing or interfering or influencing an FBI investigation of any sort.”
But Raddatz continued to push, telling Earnest: “That’s not what I’m asking. What I’m asking is, can you deny that the Obama Justice Department did not seek and obtain a FISA court-ordered wiretap of the Trump campaign?”
Apparently unwilling to lie on national TV, Earnest was backed into a corner—admitting to Raddatz: “Here’s the simple answer to that question, is, Martha, I don’t know.”
The Obama Administration’s deflection and half-truths didn’t go unnoticed. Even Obama’s former speechwriter, Jon Favreau, pointed out to the media on Twitter: “I’d be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping. Statement just said that neither he nor the [White House] ordered it.”
Jim Hanson, a national security expert on Fox News, said the evidence that wiretapping did occur was overwhelming—due to the Obama Administration’s legal maneuvering before the election.
“[The Obama Administration] asked for that warrant [to bug Trump Tower] and were denied, went back again [and] got the warrant, found out nothing was happening and went ahead and continued monitoring it,” he said.
“They did get a FISA warrant, so [Trump] doesn’t have to prove that they wiretapped him. They did wiretap him.”