GCHQ dismisses ‘utterly ridiculous’ claim it helped wiretap Trump

The Guardian reports: British intelligence officials have denied an allegation that the UK helped former president Barack Obama “wiretap” Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

The claim was repeated by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Thursday and dismissed as “utterly ridiculous” by a GCHQ spokesperson.

The spokesperson added in a statement: “Recent allegations made by media commentator judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

This week, Napolitano, Fox News judicial analyst, claimed during an interview on the network that three intelligence sources confirmed to him that the Obama administration used GCHQ to spy on Trump so that there would be “no American fingerprints on this”.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, quoted Napolitano’s allegation in an effort to validate Trump’s unfounded claim that Obama tapped his phones last year. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate intelligence committee have rubbished Donald Trump’s incendiary claim that Barack Obama placed Trump Tower under surveillance.

“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 Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina and the Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Burr and Warner helm one of the congressional committees investigating ties to Russia by Trump’s associates. Those unfolding inquiries have expanded their focus to include Trump’s evidence-free accusation, made on Twitter on 4 March, that Obama ordered surveillance of his eventual successor.

Their counterparts on the House intelligence committee, the Republican Devin Nunes and the Democrat Adam Schiff, both of California, announced the same conclusion on Wednesday. [Continue reading…]

CNN reports: The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about press secretary Sean Spicer’s comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, a White House official said Friday.

The official described the conversation as “cordial” where McMaster described Spicer’s comment as “unintentional.”

McMaster also told his counterpart that “their concerns were understood and heard and it would be relayed to the White House.”

The official said there were “at least two calls” from British officials on Thursday and that the British ambassador to the United States called Spicer to discuss the comment.

“Sean was pointing to the breadth of reporting, not endorsing any specific story,” the official said.

A senior administration official told CNN that Spicer and McMaster offered what amounted to an apology to the British government.

Earlier Friday, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said senior UK officials had protested to the Trump administration after the claims were repeated by Spicer. [Continue reading…]

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