By Darlene Superville and Julie Pace, AP
PALM BEACH, Florida — President Donald Trump is accusing Barack Obama of ordering his telephones tapped during last year’s elections, offering no evidence while invoking politically charged references to Watergate, Nixon and McCarthyism.
An Obama spokesman responded that the assertion against the former president was “simply false.” Trump’s claim also drew bipartisan rebukes from Democrats and Republicans alike.
In a series of morning tweets Saturday, Trump suggested Obama was behind a politically motivated plot to upend his campaign. He compared the alleged events to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism!” And he called Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy.”
The Watergate break-in during the Nixon administration led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation and the conviction of several aides. Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy’s reckless and unsupported charges of communist infiltration in federal government during the 1950s gave rise to the term “McCarthyism.”
After Trump’s well-received speech to Congress on Tuesday, the tweets reflected the president’s growing frustration with the swirling allegations about his advisers’ ties to Russia, which are under FBI investigation, and his team’s inability to overcome them. Trump lashed out at his senior team during an Oval Office meeting Friday, according to one White House official.
The White House did not respond to questions about what prompted the president’s accusations that Obama had tapped his phones. Presidents cannot legally order wiretaps against U.S. citizens. Obtaining wiretaps would require officials at the Justice Department to seek permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is shrouded in secrecy.
Trump said Saturday morning he had “just found out” the information, though it was unclear whether he was referring to a briefing, a conversation or a media report. The president has in the past tweeted about unsubstantiated and provocative reports he reads on blogs or conservative websites.