McCain to Trump: Prove your al­le­ga­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kelsey Snell

GOP sen­a­tor wants pres­i­dent to pro­vide ev­i­dence Barack Obama wire­tapped his of­fices.

Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man John McCain, R-Ariz., called Sun­day for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to ei­ther prove his claim that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tapped the phones in Trump Tower dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign or drop the ac­cu­sa­tion.

“The pres­i­dent has one of two choices, ei­ther re­tract or pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion that the Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve,” McCain said in an in­ter­view on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I have no rea­son to be­lieve that the charge is true, but I also be­lieve that the pres­i­dent of the United States could clear this up in a minute.”

McCain is one of sev­eral top law­mak­ers in Congress to call on Trump to pro­vide ev­i­dence of his un­sub­stan­ti­ated claim that Obama or­dered Trump’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tored. The sen­a­tor’s call for more in­forma- tion fol­lows a re­quest from two lead­ing mem­bers of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit- tee for “copies of any war­rant ap­pli­ca­tions and court or­ders — redacted as nec­es­sary ... re­lated to wire­taps of Pres­i­dent Trump, the Trump Cam­paign, or Trump Tower.”

Sens. Lind­sey O. Gra­ham, R-S.C., and Shel­don Whitehouse, D-R.I., for­mally re­quested the in­for­ma­tion last week in a let­ter to FBI Di­rec- tor James B. Comey and Dana Boente, act­ing deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral. Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have not pro­vided any ev­i­dence to back up the pres­i­dent’s claim from ear­lier this month.

McCain avoided di­rectly crit­i­ciz­ing Trump for us­ing Twit­ter to spread un­ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion, but the sen­a­tor said a se­ri­ous charge, such as ac­cus­ing a for­mer pres­i­dent of il­le­gal wire­tap­ping, should not be han­dled lightly.

“If the al­le­ga­tion is left out there, it un­der­mines the con­fi­dence the Amer­i­can peo­ple have in the en­tire way that the gov­ern­ment does busi­ness,” McCain said.

Sev­eral law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing McCain and Se­nate Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have pointed out that Trump could di­rectly ask in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials to cor­rob­o­rate his claim but in­stead has asked Congress to in­ves­ti­gate.

“The pres­i­dent ac­tu­ally could him­self ask that ques­tion,” Blunt said on Fox News’ “Sun­day Morn­ing Fu­tures.”

Not all Repub­li­cans have been so quick to put the bur­den of proof on Trump. Sen. Tom Cot­ton, R-Ark., agreed with Trump that Congress should take con­trol of the investigation to safe­guard sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence.

“Pres­i­dent Trump said last week­end that he wanted the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees in the Se­nate and the House to take up this mat­ter as part of a broader in­quiry into Rus­sia’s ac­tiv­i­ties in our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem last year. We’re go­ing to do that,” Cot­ton said Sun­day on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Through a de­lib­er­ate and care­ful process of ex­am­in­ing all the in­tel­li­gence at is­sue here, and then de­ter­min­ing with the ex­ec­u­tive branch what we can de­clas­sify, I think the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees are in the best po­si­tion to make those de­ci­sions,” the sen­a­tor added.

Sen. John McCain said the pres­i­dent can “clear this up.”

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