Spicer says Trump was talking about general surveillance in his wiretapping tweets

The press secretary addressed the tweets at Monday's briefing.

March 13, 2017, 2:39 PM

— -- White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that President Donald Trump was not talking literally or specifically when he accused President Barack Obama of "wiretapping" his campaign.

The controversy comes from Trump's unsubstantiated claims about being under surveillance by the Obama administration, which the president posted in a series of tweets more than a week ago.

"If you look at the president's tweet, he said wiretapping in quotes. There's been substantial discussion in several reports," Spicer said, referencing "surveillance that occurred."

"The president was very clear in his tweet, it was wiretapping. That spans a host of surveillance options," he said. "The House and the Senate Intelligence Committees will now look into that and provide a report back. I think there's been numerous reports from a variety of outlets over the last couple months that seem to indicate that there has been different types of surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election."

The questions about what Trump did or didn't mean stem from a series of five tweets Trump sent on the morning of Saturday, March 4.

In the first of the group, Trump wrote "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" The third tweet also included the phrase "wire tapping" in quotes, and the last two did not use quotes when he accused Obama of "tapping my phones" and "tapp [sic] my phones."

Spicer was then asked if President Trump intends to be taken seriously at all times and if he wants his claims to be taking literally.

"If he's not joking, of course. Every time he speaks authoritatively, he's speaking as the president of the United States," Spicer said.

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