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THE CONSERVATIVE REVIEW - March 7, 2017

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*-- White House asks Congress to investigate alleged wiretaps by predecessor --*

The White House on Sunday asked Congress to investigate whether the preceding administration abused its investigative powers during the 2016 presidential election.

The White House announcement comes one day after President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama, without providing evidence in Twitter posts, of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower before the November election.

"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, posting the statement on Twitter. "President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016."

Spicer added, "Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted."

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week, reiterated calls for an investigation.

"All we're saying is let's take a closer look," she said. "Let's look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal."

Trump apparently was referring to a Breitbart article, published Friday, that claimed that there was a series of "known steps taken by President Barack Obama's administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump's presidential campaign and, later, his new administration."

Stephen Bannon, who is Trump's chief strategist, once led Breitbart News.

"Look, I think he's made very clear what he believes," Sanders said. "And he's asking that we get down to the bottom of this. Let's get the truth here. Let's find out. I think the bigger story isn't who reported it, but is it true? And I think the American people have a right to know if this happened, because if it did, again this is the largest abuse of power that I think we have ever seen."

Former officials in the Obama administration have denied Trump's allegations.

"Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen," Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement. "Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."

He said they had a "cardinal rule" that "no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice."

In fact, Obama White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on This Week only judges approve wiretaps based on evidence in a criminal or counterintelligence investigation.

"The president of the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of an American citizen," he said.



House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump is making false claims to distract attention from investigations into possible contacts among the Trump campaign and Russians involved in hacking Democratic officials to influence the election.

Pelosi said on CNN's State of the Union: "What do the Russians have on Donald Trump?"

Earlier in a 6:40 a.m. tweet, Trump wrote, "Who was it that secretly said to Russian President, 'Tell Vladimir that after the election I'll have more flexibility?'"

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., was referring to a March 2012 incident when Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the United States would have more "more flexibility" in talks about a missile defense treaty after the November elections.

The remark was picked up on a hot mic the leaders apparently did not know was on.

In a tweet one hour earlier, Trump wrote about the hacking: "Is it true the DNC would not allow the FBI access to check server or other equipment after learning it was hacked? Can that be possible?"

***

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