President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to insist that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered wiretapping on his campaign, even as top lawmakers on the House intelligence committee determined there was no evidence to support the accusation.
When Carlson asked Trump how he’d learned about the supposed wiretapping, Trump offered a baffling, almost information-free response, saying he found out by “reading about things.”
Carlson asked why, as president, Trump did not simply call intelligence officials to verify the claim.
“I don’t want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency,” Trump replied.
“You can’t back up what you say,” Carlson told Trump.
“I have my own form of media,” the president replied. “So if I tweet two or three or four or five times a day, and if most of them are good, and I really want them all to be good, but if I make one mistake in a month — this one I don’t think is going to prove to be a mistake at all.”
Trump also said in the interview that “maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter, because I get such a fake press, such a dishonest press.”
Since March 4, when Trump first made the claim, his administration has relied on specious and increasingly outlandish arguments to support the unfounded accusation.
Similar to a defense put forth by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump argued on Wednesday that his tweets did not necessarily refer to wiretapping, because he put the phrase “wire tapping” in quotation marks. He said he meant there had been surveillance in a broader sense, even though he specifically mentioned Obama and wiretapping in several tweets.
“Those words were in quotes. That really covers — because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff,” Trump said. “But that really covers surveillance and many other things.”
Earlier this week, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway similarly suggested that Trump had been talking about “surveilling generally,” even claiming that one such surveillance method involved “microwaves that turn into cameras.” She later clarified that she did not mean those methods were used for Trump, and admitted she did not have any evidence for his claim.
On March 6, Conway claimed that Trump, as president, had additional “information and intelligence” to back up his claim.
“He’s the president of the United States,” she said. “He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not, and that’s the way it should be.”
There have been no definitive reports indicating that Obama authorized surveillance on Trump’s campaign. Obama himself and several top intelligence officials have denied the accusation.
On Wednesday, the House intelligence committee, chaired by Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), announced that it had no evidence to support the president’s claim.
But Trump said White House officials would be “submitting things before the committee very soon,” insisting that “we have some very good stuff.”
“It’s right now before the committee, and I think I want to leave it,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in the committee.”