US Democratic lawmakers have denounced as “ridiculous” President Donald Trump’s claims that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped his telephones during the 2016 presidential campaign. On Monday, senators of the Democratic Party vehemently criticized the new president over the baseless claims he had made two days earlier, describing Trump’s accusations as an attempt to distract officials and the public from renewed scrutiny of his senior aides and allies’ alleged ties to Russia and the interference of Moscow in the last year election.
Senator Bernie Sanders slammed Trump’s claims in a tweet, saying, “President Trump cannot continue to lie, lie, lie,” adding that, “It diminishes the office of the president and our standing in the world.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the president was trying to create a distraction and referred to Trump as a “deflector-in-chief.” “That’s just ridiculous for President Trump to say that President Obama would ever order any wiretap of an American citizen, any president,” Pelosi said. “It’s the tool of an authoritarian to have them always be talking about what you want to be talking about.”
In an interview with NBC News, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said Obama had “flatly denied that he has done this,” adding that the claims by Trump showed that “the president’s in trouble.” “It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people’s view of government,” Schumer noted. “If he falsely spread this kind of misinformation, that is so wrong.”
Chris Coons, the Democratic Senator from Delaware, called the allegations made by Trump “remarkable,” saying that, “I think another attempt by President Trump to change the subject.” Coons (pictured below) noted that he does not think any president should ever “directly order an intercept or wiretap of an American citizen.”
The Democratic Senator raised the possibilities that either Trump “inappropriately released classified information and was himself the subject of a court-ordered wiretap” or there was “inappropriate actions by the previous administration.” “It ought to be worked out in a full, fair, prompt and thorough investigation, whether by the Senate Intelligence Committee, if they can get to the bottom of this, or by a special prosecutor,” Coons noted.
The comments are made as Obama’s intelligence chief, James Clapper, has rejected the claims and a spokesman for Obama dismissed the accusation as “simply false.” FBI Director James Comey has reportedly asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s claim because it falsely insinuates that the agency broke the law.
According to officials, the move has potential risks for the president, particularly if the House and Senate intelligence committees unearth damaging information about Trump, his aides or his associates.
The new unsubstantiated claims by Trump and the continued political wrangling over ties with Russia will likely heighten the seemingly-unending tensions and controversies that have thrown the new administration into disarray and chaos.