White House Apologizes to Britain for False Wiretapping Allegations

by Zack Ford –

Noooooo, British intelligence didn’t bug Trump Tower either.

The White House has apologized to Britain and promised it will no longer reiterate conspiracy theories about British intelligence working against President Trump.

During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read through a litany of news stories that he argued gave credence to President Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama wiretapped — or “wiretapped” — Trump Tower during the election. The corroborating “evidence” included remarks made by Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, who — humoring Trump’s claims — suggested that Obama could have used a foreign intelligence service to avoid a paper trail — and that, if he did, he “more likely than not” used the British intelligence agency GCHQ to conduct that supposed surveillance.

The GCHQ, like U.S. intelligence agencies, rarely comments on its own activities, but in this case, it responded that such allegations are “utterly ridiculous” and “should be ignored.” U.S. National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster personally apologized for the claims and gave Britain assurances the White House would not repeat the claims again, according to The Telegraph.

In fact, British officials had already been decrying Napolitano’s claims earlier in the week, calling them “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd.” A British security official explained that under British law, GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes” and that the U.S. election “clearly doesn’t meet that criteria.” Indeed, the agency “can only carry out intelligence operations where it is legal in both the U.S. and UK to do so.”

This rebuke from Britain is yet another blow to the Trump administration, which has been floundering for two weeks now to defend the allegations Trump made on Twitter against his predecessor. On Monday, for example, Kellyanne Conway absurdly suggested that microwave ovens might have been turned into cameras to spy on Trump.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have both now publicly said that there is no evidence to support the wiretapping claims. Spicer responded to those statements Thursday by saying the President “stands by” his belief that the surveillance occurred.

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress