Trump Accuses Obama Of Ordering A Wiretap On His New York Office
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The Trump administration is expected to release a revised version of its travel ban today. The original executive order banning refugees and visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries has been stalled by the courts. The administration is hoping this new order passes judicial muster. This comes after a weekend dominated by allegations from the current president against the former. President Trump is accusing President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the run-up to the election. Obama has denied giving any such order, and a law enforcement official has told NPR's Carrie Johnson that FBI Director James Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly discredit Trump's claim. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley joins us now on the line to walk through all this. Good morning, Scott.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: Let's start with the new executive order on immigration that's expected to come out today. Do we know at this point how this order will be different from the last?
HORSLEY: We don't know what the final form is going to be. Some of the things that have been talked about are perhaps dropping Iraq from the list of seven targeted countries. That was a thorn in the side with our allies in the Iraqi government; also maybe having the travel ban apply only to future visa applicants, not people who already hold valid visas, and possibly dropping the preferential treatment for religious minorities, all of which was seen as constitutionally suspect. Kellyanne Conway, the president's counselor, said on Fox news this morning that the new version of the travel ban will be out today.
MARTIN: All right. So let's get back to this wiretapping charge. President Trump over the weekend sent this series of angry tweets, saying that the Obama administration abused its executive power by wiretapping his campaign, which would be a big deal if it happened. The FBI director is saying, slow down, he's pouring cold water on the president's claim. But the White House still says it wants Congress to investigate. What's going on?
HORSLEY: Yeah, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer issued a statement yesterday, saying reports of politically motivated investigations in the run-up to last year's election are troubling. Now, to be clear, the only such reports before the president's tweet storm on Saturday were on right-wing talk radio and the Breitbart website, which used to be run by Trump strategist Steve Bannon. On Friday, Breitbart ran a story that the Obama administration used its surveillance powers last year to undermine the Trump presidential campaign.
And the next day, Saturday, Trump sent out a series of tweets accusing the former president himself of tapping the phone lines at Trump Tower. Trump offered no evidence for this claim. And, Rachel, it's worth noting, the wiretapped tweets were interspersed with a tweet attacking Arnold Schwarzenegger over his low ratings on "The Apprentice" show just days after Trump declared in his speech to Congress that the time for trivial fights is behind us.
MARTIN: OK. So what is President Obama saying about all this?
HORSLEY: A spokesman for the former president says a cardinal rule during the past administration was that White House officials didn't interfere with independent investigations led by the Justice Department. The investigations were carried out by the professionals, and the political team stayed out of it. Now, the Obama spokesman did not take a position on whether in fact there was wiretapping at Trump Tower. But James Clapper, who was the director of National Intelligence at the time, told NBC's "Meet The Press" over the weekend there was not.
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JAMES CLAPPER: I will say that for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president - the president-elect at the time or as a candidate or against his campaign.
HORSLEY: And as you mentioned, Rachel, the FBI director, James Comey, has been trying to get the Justice Department to publicly deny Trump's tweets. So far, there has been no statement from the Justice Department. The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, says he wants congressional intelligence committees to look into this matter, and Spicer added, maybe optimistically, that the president would have no further comment until oversight is finished.
MARTIN: All right. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Thanks so much, Scott.
HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.