Birth of a conspiracy theory: How Trump's wiretap claim got started

In response to the wire-tapping allegations, James Clapper, wiretap/" target="_blank">Obama's Director of Intelligence, denied that they ordered a wire-tap, but also admitted there was no evidence Trump had colluded with the Russians.

A month ago, in an interview with Fox News, Mr Trump said of Mr Obama: "We get along, I don't know if he'll admit this, but he likes me".

President Trump's surrogates have defended his unsubstantiated claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones by saying he knows things that others don't.

Josh Earnest, who was Obama's White House press secretary, said presidents do not have authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of American citizens, as Trump has alleged was done to him.

That fact comes to us not from Trump's political opponents or some nefarious conspiracy of "Obama holdovers" in the "deep state", but from Trump's closest friends and allies in politics.

He also expressed support for Trump's revised travel ban against six predominantly Muslim nations, which the president signed Monday. "He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not". And that it is likely that Kislyak's calls to other Trump aides, perhaps even located in Trump Tower, were monitored.

"A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice", Obama's spokesman Ken Lewis said in an official response-both an outright denial of the accusation that Obama ordered the FBI to wiretap anyone, and an implicit rebuke of the Trump White House's breezy efforts to compromise FBI inquiries.

The allegations will distract from Trump's early opposition, as well as allegations that he colluded with the Russians to win the election, which have marred his tenure so far. Saturday was expected to be a "down day, pretty quiet", this official said, and there was little, if any, attempt to coordinate the president's message on the wiretapping allegations.

"There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate or against his campaign", Clapper told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. The problematic NSA surveillance took place before Edward Snowden exposed it in 2013, long before Trump began his run for president.

"For a president of the United States to make such an incendiary charge - and one that discredits our democracy in the eyes of the world - is as destructive as it was baseless", Schiff said.

Trump critic Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., wrote in a March 4 statement that the onus is on Trump to provide evidence supporting his tweets.

"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling", Spicer said in a statement.

"There is one page in the Trump White House crisis management playbook, and that is simply to tweet or say something outrageous to distract from a scandal", Earnest said.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer has said that he will press Rod Rosenstein, who has been nominated to be deputy attorney-general, to commit to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Mr Trump's alleged Russian Federation links.

"This is called the wrap-up smear", she told CNN.

A journalist attempted to press the issue further but Spicer interrupted him and said: "I'm going to put a pin in this".

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