Jus­tice asks more time to back up Trump claim

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Pace and Deb Riechmann

The de­part­ment now has un­til March 20 to pro­vide ev­i­dence pres­i­dent’s phones were tapped.

Fac­ing a WASH­ING­TON — Monday dead­line, the Jus­tice De­part­ment asked law­mak­ers for more time to pro­vide ev­i­dence back­ing up Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s un­proven as­ser­tion that his pre­de­ces­sor wire­tapped his New York sky­scraper dur­ing the elec­tion. The re­quest came as the White House ap­peared to soften Trump’s ex­plo­sive al­le­ga­tion.

The House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee said it would give the Jus­tice De­part­ment un­til March 20 to com­ply with the ev­i­dence re­quest.

That’s the date of the com­mit­tee’s first open hear­ing on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion and pos­si­ble con­tacts be­tween Trump as­so­ci­ates and Rus­sia.

A spokesman for the com­mit­tee’s Repub­li­can chair­man said that if the Jus­tice De­part­ment doesn’t meet the new dead­line, the panel might use its sub­poena power to gather in­for­ma­tion.

“If the com­mit­tee does not re­ceive a re­sponse by then, the com­mit­tee will ask for this in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the March 20 hear­ing and may re­sort to a com­pul­sory process if our ques­tions con­tinue to go unan­swered,” said Jack Langer, a spokesman for Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Trump’s as­ser­tions have put his ad­min­is­tra­tion in a bind. Cur­rent and for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have been un­able to pro­vide any ev­i­dence of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wire­tap­ping Trump Tower, yet the pres­i­dent’s aides have been re­luc­tant to pub­licly con­tra­dict their boss.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer tried to clar­ify Trump’s com­ments Monday, say­ing the pres­i­dent wasn’t us­ing the word wire­tap­ping lit­er­ally, not­ing that Trump had put the term in quo­ta­tion marks.

“The pres­i­dent used the word wire­tap in quotes to mean broadly sur­veil­lance and other ac­tiv­i­ties,” Spicer said. He also sug­gested Trump wasn’t ac­cus­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama specif­i­cally, but in­stead re­fer­ring to the ac­tions of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Trump him­self has not com­mented on the mat­ter since his March 4 tweets, in which he said he had “just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just be­fore the vic­tory.”

He also wrote: “Is it le­gal for a sit­ting Pres­i­dent to be ‘wire tap­ping’ a race for pres­i­dent?”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.