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Intelligence-Panel Members Say They Will Probe Trump's Wiretap Claims

5 Mar 2017 7:15 pm
By Bob Davis and Amy Harder 

WASHINGTON -- Members of the congressional intelligence committees said Sunday the panels would scrutinize President Donald Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him during the presidential campaign, though they hadn't seen evidence the allegations were true.

"I'm sure this matter will be part of this inquiry" into Russian interference with the presidential election, said Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Fox News Sunday. He added, "I've seen no evidence of the allegation we've seen in the media, whether that's a potential FISA court application or denial of that application."

FISA refers to the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which can authorize surveillance.

Sen. Susan Collins, (R., Maine) called on Mr. Trump to turn over any evidence he has to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and she suggested he should stop commenting publicly about the wiretapping allegations. "What we need to deal with is evidence, not just statements," Ms. Collins said on CBS's Face the Nation. "At this point I've seen no evidence of what he's alleged."

She said the committee may ask the president to release his tax returns, which the president so far has refused to do, if the evidence suggests those documents would be helpful in the investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the committee is examining, among other things, U.S. officials' response to Russian actions during the campaign.

"As such, the committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party's campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate the issue if the evidence warrants it," Mr. Nunes said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the House committee's top Democrat, has complained that James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hasn't responded to committee members' questions on issues relevant to their investigation.

"If the Administration truly believes that President Obama illegally eavesdropped on the Trump campaign and wants our committee to investigate the matter, they should join my call on Director Comey to answer any question put to him that is pertinent to the Russia investigation," Mr. Schiff said.

Sen. Mark Warner, (D., Va.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS Mr. Trump's claims were "reckless" because the president hadn't presented any evidence.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R. Fla.), another committee member, said the panel would work in a bipartisan way to determine the facts. "If it's true, we'll find out very quickly," Mr. Rubio said on CNN's State of the Union about Mr. Trump's claims. "And if it's not true, obviously he'll have to explain what he meant by that."

On NBC's Meet the Press, James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Obama, disputed Mr. Trump's allegations, contained in a series of tweets early Saturday morning. "There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect as a candidate or against his campaign," Mr. Clapper said.

--Byron Tau and Ted Mann contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 05, 2017 14:15 ET (19:15 GMT)

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