WASHINGTON ― The White House on Monday again declined to substantiate President Donald Trump’s explosive allegation over the weekend that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his communications at Trump Tower, maintaining repeatedly that Congress ought to investigate whether it had indeed happened.
But now the White House won’t even say whether it will accept the conclusion of the congressional investigation Trump has called for ― suggesting its initial statement calling for an inquiry is little more than a rhetorical runaround.
“We definitely will have a lot of respect for what they do and look into, but to blanketly accept [the result of the investigation] might be a bit premature,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during an off-camera briefing at the White House.
During the Monday briefing with reporters, Spicer sidestepped thorny questions as to whether the administration believes the FBI committed a crime by surveilling a private U.S. citizen, and, separately, whether the administration believes the government had reason to wiretap Trump Tower due to potential communications between Trump campaign officials and agents of a foreign power as laid out by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Spicer also declined to answer a question about whether the president believes Obama personally ordered the wiretap on Trump Tower, as he claimed on Saturday.
“As the president noted, we’re going to let Congress look into that,” he said, adding he was not aware whether the two men have talked since Trump’s inauguration.
A spokesman for Obama denied Sunday that he or anyone in his White House had ordered a wiretap of Trump’s communications. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, also said over the weekend that Trump’s presidential campaign was not wiretapped under his watch.
Spicer, however, argued that Clapper may not have been aware of its existence.
“He said he wasn’t aware of anything. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist,” he said.
Of course, playing coy with official results isn’t exactly a new tactic for Trump. Last year, he refused to say whether he would accept the election outcome ― repeatedly calling the process “rigged” against him. Obviously, that wasn’t the case.