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NY Times: FBI Director Comey asked Justice Department to publicly deny Trump's wiretapping claim

FBI Director James Comey, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Jan. 10, has asked the Justice Department to officially reject President Donald Trump's claim that the Obama Administration tapped the Trump campaign headquarters before the 2016 election. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The New York Times reported Sunday that FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to publicly deny allegations from President Donald Trump that former President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to wiretap the Trump campaign before the election.

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Comey is said to have made the request Saturday after Trump made the surprising claim on his Twitter account, sending the political world in a tailspin to explain the shocking allegation.

Some observers noted that the tweet came out just hours after Breitbart News published a story about the wiretapping allegations, citing talk radio host Mark Levin.

Officials told the Times that Comey was concerned the FBI would be blamed for surveillance of Trump that did not happen and that the allegation of wiretapping would "raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign."

A spokesman for Obama denied Trump's allegation on Sunday, saying, "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."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer first tweeted the president's demand that Congress include possible abuses of the executive power by Obama in 2016 in their investigation of Russian meddling in the election. Although the statement said the White House would not answer any more questions about the matter, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on ABC's "This Week" and offered an explanation of Trump's reasoning for the request:

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. 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.

Rep. Devin Nunes (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has responded to the demand, affirming that they would look into the wiretapping allegations. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that he would "get to the bottom" of Trump's claims, adding that it could be the "biggest scandal since Watergate."

One last thing…
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