WASHINGTON—White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster have both apologized to the British government after Spicer repeated a claim that the British government wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, according to a CNN report.
Speaking to reporters Thursday from the White House briefing room, Spicer defended the President Donald Trump’s still unfounded claim that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump tower by presenting a long list of similar claims that appeared in media reports.
Spicer pointed specifically to a March 14 broadcast on Fox News, in which analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said that three sources told the network that Obama went around U.S. intelligence by having British spies in the Government Communications Headquarters surveil the candidate’s conversations.
An unnamed spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that the claims were “ridiculous” and were promised by the White House that they would not be repeated, according to various reports.
The comment represents a rare public statement on behalf of the British intelligence community.
The chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a joint statement Thursday that there is no evidence that Trump Tower was subject to any sort of surveillance.
In a fiery exchange with reporters, Spicer said that the president stands by his initial claim and emphasized that members of Congress have not yet received evidence from the Justice Department.
The White House has not yet indicated what evidence, if any, the Department will provide.
Trump made the claim during an early morning Tweet on March 4.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Both Trump and Spicer have said that the wiretap claim was meant to cover a wide variety of surveillance techniques, citing the quotation remarks around the phrase.
While both Spicer and McMaster may have apologized to the British government, an apology to Obama may take longer.
Spicer has been asked repeatedly since the initial tweet if Trump will tell Obama that he’s sorry if no evidence turns up.
The Press Secretary, in response, has maintained that it is too early to consider the possibility and will wait for the Intelligence Committees to complete their investigations.