Cruz: Trump wire­tap claim not ‘out­landish’

He cites past tar­get­ing to de­fend pres­i­dent’s un­proven al­le­ga­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Tilove jtilove@states­man.com

Speak­ing Sun­day on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump should pro­duce ev­i­dence that then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama wire­tapped or oth­er­wise surveilled Trump Tower to­ward the end of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, but Cruz ar­gued that the charge is “not nec­es­sar­ily out­landish.”

“We do know that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion tar­geted its po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies. We do know that the IRS, for ex­am­ple, tar­geted cit­i­zens’ groups that spoke out against Obama,” said Cruz, R-Texas. “So the no­tion is not nec­es­sar­ily out­landish, but it’s se­ri­ous, so it needs to be based on facts, so we should see what the facts are be­hind this.”

“It’s worth look­ing at, was there a fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion was try­ing to do or not?” he said.

In sep­a­rate TV ap­pear­ances,

both the chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee — U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on “Fox News Sun­day” — and the rank­ing Demo­crat — U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia on NBC’s “Meet the Press” — said that new doc­u­ments pro­vided by the Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fered no ev­i­dence for Trump’s wire­tap­ping claim.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, a mem­ber of the in­tel­li­gence panel, said on ABC’s “This Week,” that Trump ought to apol­o­gize for mak­ing the un­sub­stan­ti­ated charge.

“To quote my 85-year-old fa­ther, Bob Hurd, who has given this ad­vice to all of my friends when they get mar­ried, it never hurts to say you’re sorry,” said Hurd, a for­mer CIA agent who said that er­rant as­ser­tions about Obama and the sup­posed role of Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence in spy­ing on Trump would hurt U.S. re­la­tions with crit­i­cal al­lies.

U.S. Rep. Joaquín Cas­tro, D-San An­to­nio, who also serves on the com­mit­tee and ap­peared on “This Week,” agreed.

“When you hear these out­landish com­ments, what I keep think­ing is that there’s a real pos­si­bil­ity that the pres­i­dent is un­der­min­ing these re­la­tion­ships,” Cas­tro said.

In his “Face the Na­tion” ap­pear­ance, Cruz also said he had been at Trump’s Mara-Lago re­sort Satur­day with mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s team to ne­go­ti­ate po­ten­tial changes in the House bill to re­peal Oba­macare, which Cruz said can­not and should not pass the Se­nate as cur­rently writ­ten. If it were passed in its cur­rent form, he said, it would be a po­lit­i­cal and pol­icy dis­as­ter.

“If Repub­li­cans hold a big press con­fer­ence and pat our­selves on the back that we’ve re­pealed Oba­macare and ev­ery­one’s pre­mi­ums keep go­ing up, peo­ple will be ready to tar and feather us in the streets and quite rightly,” Cruz said.

Cruz said the step-by-step strat­egy of the con­gres­sional GOP lead­er­ship to dis­man­tle the Af­ford­able Care Act is doomed to fail if mea­sures to re­duce pre­mi­ums, in­clud­ing re­peal­ing a va­ri­ety of in­sur­ance man­dates, are not in­cluded at the out­set.

“We have a chance for an in­cred­i­ble sub­stan­tive win for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and, I got to tell you, I am spend­ing night and day meet­ing with House mem­bers, meet­ing with sen­a­tors, meet­ing with the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Cruz said. “Just yes­ter­day I spent three hours at Mar-aLago with (U.S. Sen.) Mike Lee (R-Utah) and (U.S. Rep.) Mark Mead­ows (R-N.C.), ne­go­ti­at­ing with the pres­i­dent’s team, try­ing to fix this bill.”

Cruz also pre­dicted that Judge Neil Gor­such would be con­firmed for the Supreme Court with 60 votes or, if Democrats at­tempt a fil­i­buster, with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity vote.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ad­dressed sev­eral is­sues on “Face the Na­tion.”

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