Senate Intelligence Committee categorically rejects Trump’s wiretapping claim

There are “no indications” anyone in the government surveilled Trump Tower at any point.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC). CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC). CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Senate Intelligence Committee has seen no evidence to support President Trump’s claims that President Obama had him “wiretapped” during the election — or ever.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) announced Thursday that there are “no indications” that “any element of the United States government” ever subjected Trump Tower to surveillance “either before or after Election Day 2016.”

This statement follows House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) saying Thursday morning that “we’ve seen no evidence” of the alleged wiretapping. On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), similarly dismissed the wiretapping claims.

Nevertheless, Burr’s perspective differs from Nunes in a significant way. Nunes complained that the media took Trump’s accusations too seriously. Burr took the opposite approach. “I take seriously anything the President says,” he said Wednesday. “If I didn’t, then we wouldn’t have searched and talked to every federal agency about whether there were any warrants that existed.”

Burr, who during the campaign stood by Trump even after the Access Hollywood tape went public, thus offers the most definitive statement so far that Trump’s claim had no basis in reality. But Trump isn’t backing down, and that could have consequences.

In an interview filmed Wednesday with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Trump continued to defend his claim that he was wiretapped but refused to offer any details to support that claim. “I’m not going to discuss it, because we have it before the committee and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn’t been submitted as of yet,” Trump explained, assuring Carlson that “we will be submitting certain things and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week.” Trump also said that he has “a lot of confidence in the committee.”

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer continued to defend the President’s claims on The Laura Ingraham Show that “there is information out there regarding surveillance activity that occurred during the 2016 election.”

With both committees saying there’s been nothing, that seems to suggest that Trump simply lied in his accusations against Obama. And that could be a problem for the President.

Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, said last week that Trump’s false claim qualifies “as an impeachable offense.”

A spokesman for Obama confirmed that Trump has not called to speak with him, but that he has no comment on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings. A spokesman previously said that “any suggestion” that any White House official ordered surveillance against Trump was “simply false.”

UPDATE: During Thursday’s press conference, Spicer continued to defend the claims of wiretapping, insisting that Trump “stands by it.” During many long back-and-forths with the White House Press Corps, Spicer explained that Trump were referring to more “general surveillance,” but failed to provide a single example of what that might even mean.