By Abby Phillip / The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is “extremely confident” that the Justice Department will find evidence to back up his claim that former president Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” during the presidential campaign, even as the White House seeks to discourage the public from taking the president’s comments literally.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the president believes he will be “vindicated” when the Justice Department provides such evidence to a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which the White House asked to investigate Trump’s claims. The committee extended its deadline to Monday for the department to provide any evidence bolstering Trump’s claim.
Except for media reports that do not support the wiretapping assertion, the White House has provided no evidence that Obama ordered surveillance against Trump or his campaign.
“I think he’s extremely confident,” Spicer said, when asked whether Justice will have evidence to provide the House panel. “I think there is significant reporting about surveillance techniques that have existed throughout the 2016 election.
“I’ll leave it to them to issue their report, but I think he feels very confident that what will ultimately come of this will vindicate” him, Spicer added.
On Monday, Spicer argued that Trump did not mean that Obama personally wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower.
“I think recognizing that he doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally, I think,” Spicer said. “But I think there is no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election.”
Earlier, in an interview released Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway floated that the surveillance could have occurred through a microwave, a statement she later sought to walk back.
Asked whether the president believes that televisions and microwaves could have been used to surveil Trump during the election, Spicer ruled out microwaves, but declined to be more specific.
“I’m just going to say the president has tweeted about this. He’s pretty clear he believes there was surveillance conducted during the 2016 election,” Spicer said. “I think there’s pretty sound evidence that the microwave is not a sound way of surveilling someone.
“I think that has been cleaned up. It was made in jest, so I think we can put that to rest,” he added.