Two days after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he’s willing to subpoena the FBI and DOJ to get whatever information they have about President Trump’s accusation that former President Obama wiretapped him, a reporter tried to ask Trump if he has any evidence to support his claim.
At the end of Trump’s Friday meeting with House Republican leaders about Trumpcare, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl repeatedly tried to ask Trump for proof. He was ignored.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 10, 2017
According to the White House pool report, a short time later, “[o]ne of Trump’s personal security men entered the Roosevelt Room from a door behind the pool and began yelling loudly for us to clear out.” Subsequent chatter in the room was “inaudible over the yelling of the security man and a bevy of final camera shutter sounds.”
The New York Times’ Julie Davis subsequently identified the “security man” as Kevin Schiller, Trump’s former private security director who now works as deputy assistant to the president and his director of Oval Office operations.
Keith Schiller, ex-Trump security chief now head of Oval Offc Ops, intervened in Trump photo op 2day & yelled 4 reporters asking qs to leave
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) March 10, 2017
In January, Politico reported that Schiller “has worked with Trump since 1999, when the real estate mogul hired him as a part-time bodyguard. He now leads his private security force, a group that recently drew some scrutiny when POLITICO reported that Trump had opted to continuing using it after the election.”
“The Secret Service traditionally takes full control of managing security around presidents-elect and presidents, with local police sometimes assisting at public events,” Politico added. “According to experts, such an arrangement is unprecedented in recent history; some former officials raised concerns that the mix of private security officials and Secret Service agents could increase confusion, liability and risk in general.”
Trump should be able to provide evidence for his wiretapping claim — after all, he framed the accusation as fact when he first made it last Saturday.
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
But in the six days since, Trump and his team have provided no support for his allegation, which appears to be based on an unsubstantiated Breitbart report he read that morning. Both Obama and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have said there’s nothing to it.
On Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump’s claim was actually based on classified intelligence. But in addition to Clapper’s denial, FBI Director James Comey reportedly “asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones.”
“Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, [senior American officials] said, but the department has not released any such statement,” the New York Times reported on Sunday. “Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.”
During his news conference on Friday, Karl asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer if Trump will apologize if no evidence of wiretapping is found.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Spicer said. “I think it’s important to see where that goes and I don’t want to pre-judge.”
Press Sec. on if POTUS will apologize to Obama if no wiretapping evidence is found: "I'm not going to get into a series of hypotheticals." pic.twitter.com/HL6YnH0rT1
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 10, 2017
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Spicer and other Trump aides were grappling with “what amounts to a strategic political retreat — trying to publicly validate Mr. Trump’s suspicions without overtly endorsing a claim some of them believe might have been generated by Breitbart News and other far-right outlets.”
“Over the weekend, aides to Mr. Trump decided the only real solution to the presidential Twitter posts was to kick the allegations to Congress,” the Times reported. They’ve done that, but on Wednesday, Graham indicated that the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to call the president’s bluff.