The Trump administration has secured a one week stay on compliance with a demand from congressional investigators that it supply evidence to back up the president’s tweeted allegation that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump campaign telephones last year.
The House Intelligence Committee had demanded that the Justice Department produce any surveillance-related documents in its possession by Monday but agreed to push the deadline back to March 20 after Justice officials asked for more time.
March 20 is also the date for the committee’s first public hearing on alleged Russian attempts to interfere with the election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Politico reported that the committee is seeking information such as Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications “that would indicate surveillance had been conducted on Trump or his associates during the campaign.”
The committee’s inquiry is part of a broader investigation of Russian attempts to disrupt the election and help elect Trump. Common Cause has urged lawmakers to create a bipartisan select committee or an independent commission to lead that inquiry but so far the probe is being entrusted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
House and Senate leaders agreed last week to add President Trump’s Tweeted allegations about Obama administration surveillance of the campaign to their investigations. The White House has provided no evidence to support the president’s claim and on Monday Trump’s team backed away from the president’s specific allegation that Obama ordered wiretaps on lines at Trump Tower.
The president’s Twitter reference to wiretapping was in quotes and intended to cover a wide range of surveillance tactics, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
Spokesmen for both committees have suggested that they’ll subpoena FBI records and other Justice Department documents related to any Trump campaign surveillance if the Justice Department doesn’t produce them voluntarily.
And Republican congressional leaders, while working to help Trump with his legislative agenda, are keeping their distance from the president’s attack on Obama.
"I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the President of the United States could clear this up in a minute," Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, said Sunday. "All he has to do is pick up the phone, call the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence and say, 'OK, what happened?'’
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections