Former US intelligence chief dismisses Trump wiretap claims

James Clapper says he had no evidence of collusion between Trump team and Russians

Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that he had been wiretapped by Barack Obama before the election was yesterday rejected by the former director of national intelligence, in a further twist to an extraordinary furore unleashed by the US president.

James Clapper, who served in the post from 2010 to 2017, said there was no wiretap of Mr Trump or his campaign that he was aware of while in office, and that there had been no court order for one to be imposed.

Mr Clapper also told NBC he was not aware of any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump camp and the Russians during the campaign – a suspicion that has dogged the White House since Mr Trump’s inauguration.

The intervention came after the White House demanded that Congress examine Mr Trump’s claim that Mr Obama had ordered his phones at Trump Tower to be tapped. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” he wrote in a tweet.



The president's accusations prompted bafflement among politicians, including Republicans who had hoped his address to Congress last week marked a shift to a more presidential style. They also inflamed speculation over contacts between Mr Trump's allies and Russia.

Last week Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, was forced to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump camp's interactions with the Russians after it emerged he had failed to disclose to Congress two meetings with the country's ambassador.

Sean Spicer, White House spokesman, yesterday said reports of "potentially politically motivated investigations" into the Trump campaign before the election were troubling. But he failed to identify the reports he was referring to.

Mr Clapper was clear in speaking for the part of the US national security apparatus that he had overseen. “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” he said.

Mr Clapper also said he was not aware of any warrant authorising surveillance of Trump Tower having been issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – adding that he would have known if one existed. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)