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Following Congress Address, Trump Tweets Out Accusations Of Obama 'Wire Tapping' Him


As we mentioned earlier, President Trump let drop another tweet storm this morning with some explosive accusations against former President Barack Obama. It's a wild end to a week which seemingly began with promise when Mr. Trump made his first address as president before Congress, where he gave a speech which was praised for its restraint. The rest of the week was not so restrained. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now from Florida, where she's traveling with the president. Hi, Tam. Welcome back.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Thank you, glad to be back.

MARTIN: Tam, so we just spoke with 2016 independent candidate and former CIA officer Evan McMullin about Trump's Twitter storm this morning. But we want to ask you to help us fill in the gaps. What exactly did Mr. Trump say? And what do we know about what he said?

KEITH: Well, the storm started around 6:35 a.m. with a tweet where he says, terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism, exclamation point. There were a series of four tweets on this topic, which ended with him tweeting, how low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad or sick guy, exclamation point.

Now, we should say that there has been no evidence presented for this. There's no context to these tweets. They just happened. I have emailed the White House, numerous spokespeople repeatedly today and they have not responded to requests for information about what the president is talking about.

But we should say that, you know, there has been reporting in the past that has resurfaced in recent days, reporting which NPR has not been able to independently confirm, that FBI investigators had sought and received a warrant to monitor electronic communications coming out of Trump Tower. Breitbart News, which the president has had affiliation with and which is supportive of the president, did have a story about that that posted last night.

MARTIN: Tam, but if you're telling us that these rumors were out here, that they had been reported, for example, by Breitbart News, the right-wing website which we know the president reads because it was headed by his senior adviser, Steve Bannon, why is he talking about this now?

KEITH: Well, that is a good question and a question that all have. I'll also just add that we've reached out to intelligence agencies. We've reached out to the FBI. None of them are commenting on this. In theory, and not even in theory, it's very easy for the president to pick up the phone and call the head of any of these agencies and say, what is going on? Were my phones tapped? But it's not clear whether or not that happened. And that's another question that we've asked the White House.

MARTIN: What has President Obama or his spokespeople said about this?

KEITH: As for former President Barack Obama, a spokesman, Kevin Lewis, released a statement. And I'm just going to read the whole thing to you. He says, (reading) a cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.

MARTIN: So, Tam, before we let you go, where does the White House go from here?

KEITH: Well, for several weeks now we've been waiting for President Trump to sign a new executive order, a new travel ban. And that could be coming any day now. And that would certainly change the subject from Russia and his attorney general.

MARTIN: That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith traveling with the president in Florida. Tam, thanks so much.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.