TRUMP IRKS BRITAIN WITH SPYING CLAIM
Agency wiretapped Trump at the behest of Obama, says White House
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