UPDATED with video: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer continued the White House’s back-pedding on President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Obama wiretapped his Trump Tower office during the campaign, saying today that Trump is “pretty clear that he believes there was surveillance that was conducted during the 2016 election.”
This in response to a question that Saturday Night Live will have a tough time topping:
“Does the president believe he was surveilled through microwaves and televisions?”
In a Trump administration, this passes for a legitimate, if not pressing, question. That’s because, over the weekend, Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway said in an interview, when asked if she had proof of Trump’s wiretap claim: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other… You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways,” adding, that includes, “microwaves that turn into cameras,” which she called “a fact of modern life.”
When the Internet went insane in response, Conway spent Monday morning trying to clean up the mess, telling CNN she’s “not Inspector Gadget.” Spicer also pitched in during Monday’s White House press briefing with an air-quotes walk-back of Trump’s initial claim, made 10 days ago in an early morning twitter-nado.
Today, asked what is Trump’s position on microwave bugging, Spicer insisted Conway had been joking, a slight improvement on the Conway’s re-write; she had insisted her microwave remark had been in response to a question about spying techniques in general, proved to be false when the video was replayed by loads of news outlets.
“I will just say the president has tweeted about this,” Spicer responded to the microwave question. “He’s pretty clear that he believes there was surveillance that was conducted during the 2016 election, and we’re going to wait for the conclusion of that. I think there is pretty sound evidence that the microwave is not a sound way of surveilling someone, and I think that has been cleaned up. It was made in jest. So I think we can put that to rest.”