It’s official: Each of President Donald Trump’s claims about President Obama wiretapping him during the presidential election has now been officially debunked, under oath, by FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
The statements came during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on Monday. Comey also officially stated on the record that the FBI is in fact currently investigating links between Trump allies and Russia.
That directly undercut Trump’s longstanding claims that any talk of Russian involvement in the election was a story ginned up by Democrats for political gain or to excuse Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. Trump repeated that defense this morning just a short time before two of America’s top law enforcement and intelligence officials shot it down.
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
It’s worth taking a moment to let all of this sink in. Trump leveled one of the most explosive charges in recent American history by accusing Obama of a Watergate-like crime. The White House provided no evidence, and the Republican heads of the House and Senate Intelligence panels said there was none to be found. Now the heads of the FBI and NSA have implicitly said that Trump made the whole thing up.
Here’s a list of the claims Trump has made about Obama wiretapping and Russian interference, along with Comey’s and Rogers’s statements directly refuting those claims:
1) Trump’s claim: Russia story is fake, created by Democrats
Comey’s response: “[The FBI is] investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
(To be clear, there is still no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to harm Hillary Clinton and help win the White House. But there is an investigation, which means the Russia story isn’t made up, and won’t go away.)
2) Trump’s claim: President Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower during the election
Comey’s response: “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
Rogers’s response: “I have seen nothing on the NSA side that we have engaged in such activity, nor that anyone ever asked us to engage in such activity.”
Committee chair Devin Nunes had already debunked this one yesterday on Fox News Sunday: “Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No. But there never was.”
The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, also said in a joint statement last week that “[b]ased on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016."
3) Trump’s claim: Britain’s top spies helped Obama with the spying
Rogers’s response: “That would be expressly against the construct of the Five Eyes agreement that has been in place for decades.” Rogers was referring to an international agreement under which Washington and London (along with a trio of other close allies) agree not to spy on one another.
“It was an unusually blunt, at times even angry-sounding, refutation to the president of the United States,” writes Vox’s Zack Beauchamp. “It was a vivid reminder that Trump’s allegations have now been conclusively shot down by everyone in the position to know about them. And it raises still more questions about why Trump himself is stubbornly clinging on to what is now known to be a fabrication.”
The GCHQ, the British communications intelligence agency, had previously issued a statement dismissing Trump’s charges that it helped Obama spy on Trump as “nonsense.”
“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” the statement read.