Donald Trump denies White House was pushing 'ridiculous' GCHQ wiretap claim
Donald Trump has denied that the White House suggested GCHQ was spying on him during the US election campaign.
The president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, cited a Fox News pundit who claimed Barack Obama used the UK intelligence agency to investigate the Republican candidate.
The idea was immediately dismissed as “ridiculous” by GCHQ, while Downing Street and the NSA have also denied it.
Mr Trump first said Mr Obama had illegally spied on him on Twitter but the White House has yet to provide any evidence to back up that assertion, and instead it has called on Congress to investigate the president’s allegations.
He was asked about Mr Spicer’s comments on GCHQ at a press conference yesterday after a meeting with Angela Merkel.
The president denied that the White House was propagating the Fox News theory.
“We said nothing, all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on TV,” he said.
“I didn't make opinion on it, that was statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox, and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said yesterday the Government had “received assurances” that Mr Spicer’s claims would not be repeated.
“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 won't be repeated,” the spokesman said.
GCHQ also took the unusual step of publicly denying the claims, saying the “utterly ridiculous” claims “should be ignored”.
A spokesman for the intelligence agency added: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct 'wiretapping' against the then president-elect are nonsense.”
Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the work of the UK security services, has also piled into the White House’s theory.
ISC chairman Dominic Grieve said: "I note GCHQ's public denial of the potentially damaging allegations against them. This was an unusual step by the Agency, but it clearly indicates the strength of feeling about this issue, and I echo that sentiment."