President Donald Trump on Thursday revealed that his March 2017 claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower was made on “a little bit of a hunch” and called the alleged situation “a coup.”
The comments were made during Trump’s roughly 45-minute-long phone call to Sean Hannity that was aired live on Fox News’ Hannity Thursday evening, where the president covered a wide range of issues.
“It’s a coup. It’s spying. It’s everything that you would have imagined. It’s hard to believe in this country that we would have had that,” Trump said, of the alleged improper behavior by federal agents, which the president claims was committed during his campaign and continued after he was inaugurated in 2017.
“I don’t know if you remember, a long time ago, I used the words ‘wire tap’ and I put it in quotes, meaning surveillance, spying, you can sort of say whatever you want,” the president continued.
“Now I understand why, because they thought two years ago when I said that on a little bit of a hunch, a little bit of wisdom maybe, it blew up because they thought maybe I was wise to them,” Trump added. “They were caught. And that’s why. If they weren’t doing anything wrong it would’ve just gotten by. Nobody would’ve cared about it… You see now they’re trying to infiltrate the White House long after the election. It’s a disgrace.”
Trump went on to admit that he thought it was “pretty insignificant” when he made the allegations in 2017.
With no evidence, Trump accused Obama of spying on his campaign on Twitter just months after he was inaugurated. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!,” Trump tweeted on March 4, 2017 from Mar-a-Lago.
“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!” Trump added in another tweet.
An Obama spokesperson denied the allegations at the time, calling them “simply false.”
In a court filing that September, the Justice Department confirmed that they were not aware of any evidence to support Trump’s claims that the Obama administration had surveilled Trump Tower in 2016. They also added that the FBI also had no evidence suggesting it happened. However, Trump has continued spreading the allegation.
Attorney General William Barr told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee earlier this month that he believes the government did spy on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign during his second consecutive day of testimony on Capitol Hill.
“I think spying did occur,” Barr told lawmakers, “but the question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”
“For the same reason, we’re worried about foreign influence in elections… I think spying on a political campaign — it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal,” he added.
When asked to clarify, Barr noted that he couldn’t provide “specific evidence,” but asserted that he has “questions” and “concerns about various aspects of it.”