President Donald Trump revved up his “this is what I was told” responsibility-ducking routine today when asked about the White House having claimed former POTUS Obama asked British intelligence to spy on Trump during the election: He pointed the finger at Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano.
Trump’s comment came in response to a reporter’s question during a White House presser with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel. A German reporter asked Trump if he regretted the White House having claimed Obama wiretapped him during the campaign and if he now thought it was a mistake to have said Brit intelligence was involved, according to a simultaneous translation provided to cable news outlets.
“We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind, who was the one responsible for saying that on television,” Trump said, insisting, “I did not make an opinion on it.”
“That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox, and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Fox News Channel quickly responded on its air, with Shep Smith saying the network cannot confirm Natpolitano’s remarks and it has no evidence evidence Trump was surveilled at any time.
At the White House press briefing one day earlier, lighting into reporters on the subject of Trump’s claim Obama had wiretapped him during the campaign, Press Secretary Sean Spicer read from a prepared page of quotes saying otherwise. That included quoting Fox News, on March 14, during which Napolitano said three intelligence sources “have informed Fox News” that President Obama used British intelligence transcripts to spy on Trump during the campaign “gain access to conversations involving President Trump … and no American fingerprints on it.”
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May responded to the White House’s statement, telling the press “We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored and we’ve received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated.”
Additionally, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart the same day Spicer made his remarks from the White House podium, calling the press secretary’s prepared remark “unintentional.” Later today, however, Spicer said the White House does not regret the remark and made no apology to the Brits.
At today’s presser with Merkel, Trump got asked by a German reporter if there were any tweets he regretted issuing. Trump had triggered the storyline about Obama and wiretapping in a series of early morning tweets nearly two weeks ago, in which he accused Obama of wiretapping his Trump Tower office during the campaign calling Obama a “bad (or sick) guy.”
“Very seldom,” Trump shot back, adding that he “probably wouldn’t be here right now” were it not for his Twitter account. “We have a tremendous group of people that listen, and I can get around the media when the media doesn’t tell the truth, so I like that,” he said, like he meant it to sting.
Another German reporter asked Trump why he so often speaks of “fake news” on the subject of his unsupported claims he was wiretapped by Obama.
“Nice friendly reporter,” Trump shot back, telling that reporter who also had asked about Trump’s “isolationist policy” that “I’m not an isolationist; I’m a free trader, but I’m also a fair trader.” Added Trump, “I don’t now what newspaper you are reading but that would be another example of, as you say, fake news.”