Trump on GCHQ spying: I was quoting ‘legal mind’


In a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US President was asked whether he regretted tweeting the claim that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Towers during the election.

In his reply, he made a reference to claims that Mrs Merkel had been the subject of surveillance by Mr Obama in 2010 and appeared to lay the blame for the original allegation on Fox News.

He said: “As far as wiretapping (gesturing to Mrs Merkel), this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.

Sean Spicer: No regrets over UK spying allegations

Video:Sean Spicer: No regrets over UK spying allegations

“We said nothing – all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make any opinion on it.

“That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox, ok?”

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Angela Merkel and Donald Trump smile for the cameras in the Oval Office

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Those comments appear to contradict a series of tweets by the US President earlier this month, in which he labelled former president Barack Obama a “bad (or sick) guy” and said a “good lawyer could make a great case” out of the claims.

Mr Trump was referring to US media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano, who made the original accusation about GCHQ involvement on Wednesday.

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

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

That claim was then repeated by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who has repeatedly said the US President stands by the allegation and does not regret making it.

On Thursday, US Congress rejected the wiretap claim, with leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence saying: “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.”

GCHQ had previously dismissed the wiretap as “utterly ridiculous”.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that the White House had assured Number 10 it will not repeat the GCHQ claims.

Donald Trump pictured shortly after his inauguaration with Barack Obama and his tweet (inset)

Video:‘No evidence’ Obama tapped Trump’s phones

He said: “We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored and we’ve received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated.

“We have a close relationship with the White House and that allows us to raise concerns as and when they arise as was true in this case.”

The US Justice Department said it had delivered documents to congressional committees following their request for information on the wiretapping allegations.

Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump appeared to have an awkward meeting at the White House, with the US President seemingly refusing to shake the German Chancellor’s hand in front of the media in the Oval Office.

They had, however, shaken hands when they met earlier.

The two leaders discussed NATO funding, trade agreements and the international situations in Ukraine and Syria.

But Mr Trump denied claims his policies were isolationist. He said: “I don’t believe in isolationist policy, but I also believe that a trade policy should be fair.

“I am a free trader, but I’m also a fair trader.”


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