White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday back-pedaled President Donald Trump’s claims that his phone line was ordered tapped by then-President Barack Obama, an allegation of illegality that Trump recently made on Twitter without providing any evidence.
In an animated question-and-answer session with reporters during his regular briefing, Spicer suggested Trump had been speaking broadly when he posted his accusations against Obama on March 4.
“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally,” Spicer said. “But I think there’s no question that the Obama administration — that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then. The president used the word ‘wiretapped’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities during that — and that is again something.”
Spicer’s remarks on Monday were the first from the press secretary suggesting the president hadn’t meant his allegation as necessarily literal — and therefore wasn’t maintaining that he, and his own phone lines at Trump Tower in Manhattan, were targeted directly by the Obama administration.
Actually, I think Spicer has a good point about the general use of the term “wiretapping”, especially in light of WikiLeaks Vault7 revelations and confirmations about the techniques available to the CIA for covert surveillance, making “wiretapping” in the literal sense rather archaic and redundant.