Agency wire­tapped Trump at the be­hest of Obama, says White House

New Straits Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump pro­voked a rare pub­lic dis­pute with the United States’ clos­est ally on Fri­day af­ter his White House aired an ex­plo­sive and un­sub­stan­ti­ated claim that Bri­tain’s spy agency had se­cretly eaves­dropped on him at the be­hest of pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing last year’s cam­paign.

Livid British of­fi­cials adamantly de­nied the al­le­ga­tion and se­cured prom­ises from se­nior White House of­fi­cials not to re­peat it.

But a de­fi­ant Trump re­fused to back down, mak­ing clear that the White House had noth­ing to re­tract or apol­o­gise for be­cause his spokesman had sim­ply re­peated an as­ser­tion made by a Fox News com­men­ta­tor. Fox it­self later dis­avowed the re­port.

The rup­ture with Lon­don was Trump’s lat­est quar­rel with an ally in the two months since tak­ing of­fice.

Trump’s strained re­la­tions with Europe were fully on dis­play on Fri­day, not just in the British spy flap, but also in the venue in which it was ad­dressed.

The pres­i­dent was host­ing for the first time Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel of Ger­many.

Though po­lite, the two lead­ers seemed stiff and dis­tant.

The an­gry re­sponse from Bri­tain stemmed from Trump’s per­sis­tence in ac­cus­ing Obama of tap­ping his phones last year de­spite the lack of ev­i­dence and across-the-board de­nials.

On an­other mat­ter, Trump yes­ter­day ac­cused Ger­many of ow­ing “vast sums of money” to the North Atlantic Treaty Or­gan­i­sa­tion, and said Ber­lin should pay Washington more for de­fense, a day af­ter meet­ing Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel.

Trump tweeted: “Ger­many owes vast sums of money to NATO and the US must be paid more for the pow­er­ful, and very ex­pen­sive, de­fence it pro­vides to Ger­many!” Agen­cies

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