An incredulous Jake Tapper called the White House’s claims that former President Barack Obama worked with British intelligence officers to conduct surveillance on President Donald Trump “outlandish,” “another wild accusation” and an “embarrassment” during a blistering segment on his CNN show “The Lead” on Friday.
“Does smearing British intelligence make your family more safe? No? So why is the White House doing it? What is the White House defending here?” Tapper asked. “Because it damn sure isn’t national security or American credibility before the world.”
Tapper’s scathing rebuke of Trump and the White House followed a joint press conference with Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at which Trump tried to not take responsibility for White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s remarks at a briefing this week in which he raised allegations of a connection between British spies and Obama.
“We said nothing,” Trump said Friday. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. So you shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to Fox.”
During Thursday’s White House press briefing, Spicer read a report by Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano that claimed Obama had worked with British intelligence to spy on Trump. The White House reportedly apologized after British officials came out and disputed Spicer and Napolitano.
Spicer’s allegations were made to back other unfounded claims Trump made on Twitter earlier this month. In a series of tweets on March 4, Trump accused Obama of wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. Neither Trump nor his administration has offered any proof of this conspiracy theory beyond its origins in right-wing media reports. Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they have seen no evidence that backs up Trump’s claim.
“The White House is apparently unaware that when the White House, in the world’s most powerful nation, cites a news story as proof of what the president of the United States has said, that that tends to suggest to people that you think you believe the story you’re citing as proof,” Tapper said.
Tapper said that not only is there “no evidence” of Obama spying on Trump, but there is also no “credible source who knows anything about intelligence” who believes the charges Trump raised against Obama. He characterized the blaming of British intelligence “another wild accusation” and a “fevered effort” to try to force Trump’s “outlandish claim” into “something remotely resembling passably perhaps maybe the truth.” It’s a fraught allegation that, Tapper says, could potentially alienate Britain, a critical ally.
Moreover, Fox News host Shepard Smith said Friday that the network could not substantiate Napolitano’s claims, which Spicer had read aloud.
“Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” Smith said. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”