White House spokesperson qualifies Trump wiretap assertion

PHOTO: White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders talks to the media during a press gaggle in the press briefing room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 28, 2017.PlayAndrew Harnik/AP Photo
WATCH Retracing President Trump's whirlwind wiretapping claims

A White House spokesperson qualified President Trump’s assertion that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign, saying “if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal.”

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“All we’re saying is, let’s take a closer look. Let’s look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal,” White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

“If, if, if, if,” pressed “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “Why is the president saying it did happen?”

“Look, I think he’s going off of information that he’s seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential,” Huckabee Sanders responded. “I think he’s made very clear what he believes, and he’s asking that we get down to the bottom of this, get the truth here.”

In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Trump accused Obama of wiretapping phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, without offering proof.

It is unclear what prompted Trump’s claims Saturday. But on Friday an article on the conservative website Breitbart claimed that the Obama administration obtained authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign.

Huckabee Sanders told Raddatz that conservative media aren’t the only outlets that have reported on possible surveillance as part of the investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.

“The New York Times, BBC have also talked about and reported on the potential of this having had happened. I think the bigger thing is, let’s find out. Let’s have an investigation. If they’re going to investigate Russia ties, let’s include this as part of it,” Huckabee Sanders said.

In a statement Sunday morning, White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the president’s tweets, calling for Congress to investigate the wiretapping claims.

“Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling,” the statement said. “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016. Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”

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