Nearly two weeks ago, President Trump tweeted explicitly, “Just found out Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower,” which turned out to be a controversial statement. In addition to the fact that it is an impetuous accusation of a former President of the United States and an unprecedented scandal if proven to be true, it feeds the mistrust of government and media that has already proven to be so pervasive since the 2016 election and its aftermath. Many took issue with the accusation immediately before any investigation ensued, but House Speaker Paul Ryan told the press shortly after the tweet and its controversy surfaced that the President’s claims would have to be investigated.
The tweet came while media has already spent months investigating the Trump Administration’s (and the Trump Campaign’s) alleged ties to and support from Russia. Circumstantial evidence has accumulated on an almost monthly basis since the election to suggest that the DNC hack, confirmed by the CIA to have been orchestrated by two Russian, cyberattack teams, was an attempt to help Donald Trump win the election. During the campaign and throughout his incumbency thus far, though, Trump has cautioned the American people all along against trusting the media, warning citizens to be wary of fake news.
Less than a week after the tweet was posted, President Trump was interviewed on Fox News where he explained what he meant by his tweet. He explained, “Wiretap covers a lot of things.” He went on to speak of expectations of “some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA.) are constituents of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they are in charge of investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. On Thursday, March 16, they negated White House claims about Trump Tower surveillance under the Obama Administration. Said the former:
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.
The two senators made a joint statement in which this was said on behalf of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is a committee with security clearances that permit them access to information that can be crosschecked between several intelligence bureaus and law enforcement agencies.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who initially seemed to be supporting the move to investigate the President’s allegations, now concurs with the statement from the Senate Intelligence Committee. He commented the same day thereafter on the issue of wiretaps at Trump Tower, “We’ve cleared that up. That—that we’ve seen no evidence of that.”
The House Intelligence Committee is also carrying out its own investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Chairman Devin Nunes commented on his take on the alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower under Obama. Like Rep. Ryan, Rep. Nunes simply said that he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.” Unlike Ryan, though, he did point out that he interprets the official statement from the Senate Intelligence Committee as a broader pushback against the President.