Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

GCHQ: Claim we bugged Donald Trump 'utterly ridiculous'

GCHQ: Claim we bugged Donald Trump 'utterly ridiculous'

Britain's communications intelligence agency GCHQ has issued a statement denying it wiretapped Donald Trump during the United States presidential campaign.

He says that when it comes to wiretapping, "At least we have something in common, perhaps".

And Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, warned that Trump's comments and the White House's decision to dig in on the claims are undercutting the President's credibility and sapping his political capital at a time when he's trying to push a budget and health care overhaul through Congress.

Tim Farron, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat party - the junior coalition partner in the last British government - described the White House claim as "shameful" and said it risked harming U.S. and UK security.

British officials have categorically denied Napolitano's reporting, and Spicer's decision to cite it from the White House podium threatened to strain relations between the trans-Atlantic allies.

The revelations come just days before FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael S. Rogers are scheduled to testify publicly about Mr. Trump's claims, as well as a broader debate about Russia's role in attempting to influence the US election.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that the president stands by his allegation - made in a tweet sent March 4 - that President Barack Obama ordered surveillance of his phones at Trump Tower in NY during the campaign in autumn. "They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored".

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. The spokesman said the British government had received a guarantee from its American counterpart that the claim would not be repeated. Spicer highlighted the report in a list of media accounts he read to reporters during his briefing on Thursday, arguing that the stories helped validate the president's unsubstantiated allegation that his predecessor had surveilled him. The White House has publicly offered no proof of the allegation.

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

"When I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes".

Spicer was also defiant Friday, telling reporters: "I don't think we regret anything".

Unidentified officials told Telegraph that White House Press Secretary and US National Security Adviser had issued an apology. But Spicer, under pressure from Trump, has not backed down. Australia, Canada and New Zealand are the other members. A White House official who declined to be named gave a slightly different version.

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. The official said the conversations have been friendly and not acrimonious and both nations are committed to ironing out the situation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump's claims were "irresponsible for sure". Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. There was an article, I think they used that exact term.

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