On Saturday, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse demanded that President Donald Trump release information supporting his unprecedented claims that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
Trump’s shocking claims which came in an early Saturday morning tweet storm have baffled many from both sides of the aisle, and prompted a response from the former President as well.
“We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President’s allegations today demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots,” Sasse said in a statement.
The Nebraska Senator said that Trump’s “very serious allegations” require that he provide more information to lawmakers and the public, noting that any such wiretap would have had to be authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, unless it was conducted illegally.
“If without [authorization], the President should explain what sort of wiretap it was and how he knows this,” Sasse said, adding “It is possible that he was illegally tapped.”
At the same time, the Senator said that if there was a wiretap which was legally authorized under FISA, “an application for surveillance exists that the court found credible,” meaning that there was at least enough evidence presented to the court for the court to agree that a wiretap was warranted.
“The President should ask this full application regarding surveillance of foreign operatives or operations be made available, ideally to the full public, and at a bare minimum to the U.S. Senate,” Sasse continued.
The Senator’s remarks are similar to those of his fellow GOP colleague, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who during a town hall on Saturday said that he was “very worried” about Trump’s claims that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the presidential election.
Graham said that if there was an unauthorized or illegal wiretap ordered by Obama, it would be “the biggest political scandal since Watergate.” Conversely, he said that if the Obama administration had legally obtained a warrant to tap Trump’s campaign, then that would be an equally significant scandal.
In a series of tweets on Saturday morning, the President claimed that Obama had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower, accusations he made without providing any evidence.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted.
“Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he added in subsequent tweets.
“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
A spokesperson for Obama categorically denied Trump’s claims later in the morning, stating that they were “simply false.”
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesperson.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” he added. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”