White House aides struggle to defend Trump wiretap claims
The White House on Monday attempted to defend President Trump’s unfounded claim that former president Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower near the end of the presidential campaign, sending out several administration officials — both on and off camera — to reiterate the assertion without providing supporting evidence.
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Trump has since provided no proof to back up his assertion, which has been rebuffed by Obama, FBI Director James B. Comey and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. On Monday, senior administration officials contorted themselves trying to defend the president’s claims, which seemed to emanate largely in response to a rant on conservative talk radio and in an article on Breitbart News, the conservative website that Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, formerly led.
In perhaps the clearest sign of the uncomfortable situation the president’s tweets created for his aides, the normally media-hungry White House went largely dark Monday. Although several top officials did defend Trump in TV interviews, Spicer did not allow cameras into the briefing room for his news conference Monday, and Trump signed an executive order for his revamped travel ban in private.
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Like Spicer, Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump’s accusations are supported by news media reports, even though a list of such articles provided by the White House contained no such evidence. She also attempted to recast the president’s words with a softer tone....