Trump gives no inch, nor evidence of wiretap claim
THE director of the FBI, James Comey, has reportedly asked the US Justice Department to publicly shoot down President Donald Trump's accusation that Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower to be wire-tapped.
Mr Comey believes Mr Trump has falsely insinuated that the FBI broke the law. But his request to the Justice Department, made on Saturday according to the New York Times, has not resulted in a public statement.
Meanwhile, CNN reports Mr Trump is "extremely frustrated" with his staff. The President feels they allowed his address to Congress last week, which was well received, to be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions' meetings with the Russian ambassador.
"Nobody has seen him that upset," an anonymous source told the network.
Mr Trump's anger at the repeated "mini disasters" that have distracted his administration boiled over during a heated meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, where he reportedly dressed down White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Today, Mr Trump demanded Congress investigate his claims that Barack Obama ordered a wire-tap on Trump Tower in the lead-up to last year's election.
The White House has not provided any proof to back up Mr Trump's extraordinary accusation. In an early morning tweetfest on Saturday, the President claimed his predecessor had ordered surveillance on him. He compared the alleged wire-tapping to Watergate and McCarthyism, and called Mr Obama a "bad (or sick) guy".
A spokesman for Mr Obama called the accusations completely false.
But the White House continued its attack overnight, with Mr Trump's deputy White House press secretary calling it potentially the "greatest abuse of power" the country has ever seen.
Speaking on ABC's This Week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President was determined to find out exactly what happened.
"Look, I think he's going off of information that he's seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential," she said.
"And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself.
"And the American people have a right to know if this took place."
Politicians from both parties appealed for Mr Trump to provide proof for the startling claim, however the White House insisted there would be no further comment until "such oversight is conducted" by the congressional intelligence committees.
Mr Trump claims the wire-tapping happened in October at the New York skyscraper where he ran his election campaign.
However House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi rubbished the claim.
"It's called a wrap-up smear," she said.
"You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge. It's a tool of an authoritarian."
FBI director James B. Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Mr Trump's claim saying it is false and must be corrected.
Mr Comey made the request following Mr Trump's Twitter tirade on Saturday, according to US officials, although the department has not released such a statement, the New York Times reported.
Mr Comey reportedly said there is no evidence to support his claim which implies that the FBI broke the law.
As the fallout continued, it also emerged Mr Trump's accusations may be based on unproven claims by alt-right news site Breitbart News and conservative radio.
CNN anchor and chief, Washington correspondent Jack Tapper, tweeted that White House sources told him Mr Trump did not get his information from government sources.
Tapper also said if this was indeed the case it would be a massive story, however there was no proof to back up Mr Trump's extraordinary claims.
He also tweeted it wouldn't be the first time the POTUS put out "wild accusations that are untethered to reality" including Mr Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and his leadership of the birther movement, which questioned whether Mr Obama was born in the US.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama's former press secretary Josh Earnest said presidents don't have authority to unilaterally order the wire-tapping of American citizens.
Mr Earnest accused Mr Trump of levelling the allegations to distract from the attention being given to campaign-season contacts by Trump aides with a Russian official, including campaign adviser Jeff Sessions, before he resigned from the Senate to become attorney general.
Mr Obama's spokesman Kevin Lewis said a "cardinal rule" of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered in Justice Department investigations, which are supposed to be conducted free of political influence.
Mr Lewis said neither Obama nor any White House official had ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen.
"Any suggestion otherwise is simply false," he said.