White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer squared off Wednesday against members of the White House Press Corps who questioned him about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s statement that it had not found evidence of any government surveillance of Trump Tower “[b]ased on the information available to us.”
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked whether President Donald Trump still stood by his claims that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his phones (or, more broadly, that the Obama administration eavesdropped on his campaign aides).
Spicer pushed back, challenging Karl about why members of the mainstream media had ignored reports that were unfavorable to the “narrative” of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, such as statements by past and present intelligence officials that there was no evidence of any such coordination.
He then read a full version of the “wiretapping” case, citing the various mainstream media reports describing surveillance of Trump Tower and of individuals close to the Trump campaign.
He also noted that the congressional committees investigating the president’s concerns had not yet received all of the evidence available — such as evidence at the Department of Justice, for example.
CNN’s Jim Acosta then claimed that Spicer had not answered the question Karl had asked. Spicer argued back vehemently. He did, however, enjoy a laugh at his own expense when he committed an inadvertent gaffe — or perhaps a Freudian slip — when he challenged Acosta to prove how he knew there had been no surveillance, and told him: “You have no intelligence.”
Spicer also cited Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who said Wednesday that some surveillance of Trump Tower could have been swept up inadvertently.
Much of the media reporting of those comments had focused on Nunes saying that the president was wrong if his tweets — about Obama tapping his phones — were taken literally.
Conservatives have alleged that the surveillance of the Trump campaign — and the leaks of that intelligence to the media — could be evidence of a “deep state” effort to undermine the Trump administration.
Some opponents of the Trump administration have openly defended such alleged behavior by the intelligence agencies, claiming that Trump is a threat to the country and the Constitution.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.