Democrat, Republican lawmakers agree: No evidence of Trump Tower wiretapping.

Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Agree: No Evidence of Trump Tower Wiretapping

Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Agree: No Evidence of Trump Tower Wiretapping

The Slatest
Your News Companion
March 19 2017 6:31 PM

Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Agree: No Evidence of Trump Tower Wiretapping

649273168-view-of-trump-tower-march-7-2017-in-new-york-city-in-a
A view of Trump Tower on March 7 in New York City.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The top Republican and Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee both agreed on Sunday that there is still no concrete evidence to prove President Donald Trump’s contention that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. The issue took center stage during the Sunday talk shows a day before the House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to hold its first public hearing on claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“If you take the president literally, it didn't happen,” Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, of California, said on Fox. “Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No. But there—there never was. And—and the information we got on Friday continues to lead us in that direction.” Nunes was referring to documents the Department of Justice delivered to the intelligence committee on Friday that were supposed to help clear up the question over whether the Obama administration spied on Trump.

Advertisement

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Susan Collins of Maine also said they had seen no evidence to support claims that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower. “I don’t know the basis for President Trump’s assertion,” Collins said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I do believe he owes us that explanation.”

Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas, even took it one step further and called on Trump to apologize. “To quote my 85-year-old father ... ‘It never hurts to say you're sorry,’ ” Hurd told ABC’s This Week. “And it’s not just sorry to [Obama] but sorry to the [United Kingdom] for the claims—or the intimation—that the U.K. was involved in this as well.” Hurd was hardly the first Republican to make this suggestion. Rep. Tom Cole told reporters on Friday that “President Obama is owed an apology,” unless Trump can put forward some convincing evidence of his wiretapping claims.

Not surprisingly, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, also agreed there was no evidence to back up the accusation. “What the president said was just patently false, and the wrecking ball it created has now banged into our British allies and our German allies and continuing to grow in terms of damage,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And he needs to put an end to this.”

Still, that doesn’t mean Republicans and Democrats actually see eye to eye on most things. For one thing, Nunes appeared to be following the White House playbook to shift attention away from wiretapping itself to leaks to journalists. “The one crime we know that’s been committed is that one, the leaking of someone’s name,” Nunes said.

There’s also disagreement about whether there’s evidence that Trump’s campaign and Russian officials worked together to influence the election. “There is circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said. “There is direct evidence, I think, of deception, and that’s where we begin the investigation.” Nunes, on the other hand, was categorical that the committee had yet to see any evidence that the Trump campaign worked with Russian officials. “I’ll give you a very simple answer,” he said when asked about the issue on Fox. “No.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.