UPDATE: 4:45 p.m. EDT — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Sunday wiretapping at Trump Tower “literally … didn’t happen.”
"Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No, there never was, and the information on Friday continues to lead us in that direction," Nunes said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Nunes said, however, members of the Trump team might have been spied on during the campaign if they were involved with anyone on the intelligence community’s radar.
"If there were other surveillance activities where names were picked up and unmasking occurred, and that was spread throughout the intelligence community, that is very possible and we don't have answers to those questions yet," Nunes said. "I don't know if the president has those or not."
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday President Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims are “patently false” a day ahead of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee by FBI Director James Comey.
Comey is scheduled to testify about Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails and for many of the fake news stories that found their way onto social media.
Trump on March 4 tweeted former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance on the Republican candidate during the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign, a charge Obama denied categorically. Trump has presented no evidence any wiretapping occurred but has insisted repeatedly it was true. Trump said Friday he based his tweetstorm on something he heard on Fox News.
“We said nothing,” Trump said in response to a question during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkl. “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.”
“You shouldn’t be talking to me,” Trump added. “You should be talking to Fox.”
Trump apparently was referring to Fox commentator Andrew Napolitano. Fox News, however, attempted to distance itself from Napolitano’s commentary, saying it had “no evidence of any kind” of surveillance on Trump.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the heads of both the House and Senate intelligence committees all have said they have seen no evidence of wiretapping.
Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he received a classified briefing Friday on the wiretapping issue, and there was “no evidence to support the president’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor.”
He predicted Comey will definitively put the allegation to rest “because what the president said was just patently false.”
Schiff added: “I suspect what's really at root here … is this is just how the president does business. Now maybe this is the way he conducted his real estate business with half-truths and sometimes no-truths, and a lot of bluster. That, in my opinion, is no way to run a business. But it's an even worse way to run a country.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, urged Trump to present his evidence if he has any.
“I don't know the basis for President Trump's assertion. And that's what I wish he would explain to us on the Intelligence Committee and to the American people. And I do believe he owes us that explanation,” she said on “Meet the Press.”
Rep. Will Hurt, R-Texas, another member of the intelligence panel, urged Trump to apologize for the allegation and also to Britain for White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s charge that Obama used British intelligence to do the actual spying, an accusation Britain denied.
“We've got to make sure that we're all working together,” Hurd said on “This Week.” “We live in a very dangerous world and we can't do this alone. And when we have a major ally — and it's not just sorry [from] the president [to the American people], but also to the U.K. for the claims or the intimation that the U.K. was involved in this, as well. It doesn't hurt [to say sorry].”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., however, said despite the questionable wiretapping allegation, a crime was committed in the revelation Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, had been in contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn was forced to resign for lying about those contacts.
”Someone unmasked General Flynn and they're a low-level analyst, we need to be looking at their computer and find out if they unmasked that conversation and if they spoke with The New York Times you have got to put those people in jail, because you cannot allow this to happen, or we will have presidents being blackmailed or national security advisers being blackmailed,” Paul said on “This Week.”