Spicer: ‘Information Out There’ on Election ‘Surveillance Activity’
Trump press secretary says 'damned if we do and we're damned if we don't' push agencies for wiretap evidence
The White House does not appear to be backing down from a claim President Donald Trump was wiretapped during the 2016 election.
Speaking on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated information backing up the claim could be made public in the next two weeks.
“It is a signal, it is a blueprint and it is a road map of where the president wants to take this country.”
“The president has been very clear from the get-go … that there is information out there regarding surveillance activity that occurred during the 2016 election,” said Spicer.
Trump said on March 4 in a Saturday morning tweet that President Obama may have wiretapped him. Congressional critics and media commentators maintain there is no evidence the Obama White House tapped Trump’s phones or communications systems. The chairman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee held a press conference Wednesday affirming they had also seen no evidence to support the claim.
Spicer tied Trump’s allegation to the leaks of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was caught on a leaked wiretap speaking to the Russian ambassador in late December. Flynn resigned Feb. 13.
“We want the process to play out on [the Flynn leak],” said Spicer. “The president was clear he wanted the House and Senate to look into it.”
Spicer said the press is hounding the White House on the claim, demanding the White House ask other agencies about a wiretap, but then reporters are ready to pounce if Trump “interferes” with federal agencies.
“We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t,” said Spicer.
In a separate interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden, the top spy under President George W. Bush, shot down any suggestion Trump’s use of the word “wiretap” could cover a vast array of surveillance.
“Wiretap is not a metaphor,” said Hayden. “Wiretapping in common English usage is intentionally monitoring the communications of a specific individual … I am really curious, like you are, as to what big reveal we’re going to have in the next 14 days.”
Hayden said Spicer didn’t deliver any clues.
“I thought it was striking that Sean had trouble kind of suggesting what that might be,” said Hayden.
On the ongoing melee on Congress over a GOP leadership-backed plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Spicer insisted the bill is on track.
“This is the vehicle that will repeal Obamacare,” said Spicer.
Spicer also defended the president’s first budget proposal released Thursday morning, which has rocked Washington, D.C.
Trump’s first budget targets discretionary spending, and wholly cuts funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, and NPR’s parent company, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham noted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already said the budget proposal has problems. The budget process starts in Congress after the president lays out a sketch.
“The goal of the president and the executive is to lay out the priorities,” said Spicer. “It is a signal, it is a blueprint, and it is a road map of where the president wants to take this country … We need to make sure that we’re establishing clearly what the president wants to do and how he wants to do it.”
The proposal so far does not deal with the more sensitive topics of entitlements such as Medicare.
On a lighter note, Spicer gently dismissed the notion he had become something of a celebrity with fans rushing up to him to grab selfies. Ingraham said she noticed people spotting Spicer and running up to talk to him.
But Spicer, who has been parodied on “Saturday Night Live,” said he is just a “conduit” for supporters to express support for Trump.
Spicer said he was recently given a thank-you note for Trump by a Nashville woman at a public event Wednesday.
“Any time someone has come up to me, it’s an extension of them wanting to thank the president for his agenda or his vision,” said Spicer.