No indication Trump Tower was subject of surveillance, bipartisan Senate leaders say
The top-ranking leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Chairman Richard Burr and Democratic Vice Chairman Mark Warner, echoed comments from their House counterpart who on Wednesday similarly dismissed the unfounded claim.
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” they said in a brief joint statement.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that after looking into the matter he does not "think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower".
And the top House Republican, Paul Ryan, told reporters Thursday that "no such wiretap existed.
"The Intelligence Committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom -- at least so far -- with respect to our intelligence community that -- that no such wiretap existed," he said.
The White House has sought to walk back Trump's rhetoric, telling reporters that the president referred to broader surveillance.
To be clear, when Trump tweeted on March 4 he accused former President Barack Obama of having his "wires tapped" at Trump Tower.
"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 said in another tweet that day, misspelling "tap".
Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that when he said "wires tapped" he meant "surveillance and many other things".
The Senate Intelligence Committee chiefs completely shot down the suggestion, wording their statement to specifically address the claim of surveillance of any kind.
The administration has until March 20 to present any evidence to substantiate Trump's claim. FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on that date.