Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey told ABC News that elements of the intelligence community likely did conduct surveillance of Trump Tower during last year’s general election.
In an early-morning tweet on Saturday, President Donald Trump asserted that former President Barack Obama had ordered intelligence agencies to wiretap Trump Tower in advance of the election. The White House later issued a statement urging an investigation of pre-election surveillance of the Trump campaign, as spokesmen attempted to walk back the president’s claim.
Mukasey, who led the U.S. Department of Justice in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, said Trump Tower was almost certainly the subject of surveillance, but that orders for such actions were likely issued by the Justice Department and not the Obama White House.
“I think he’s right in that there was surveillance and that it was conducted at the behest of the attorney general — at the Justice Department,” he said.
Mukasey explained that the Justice Department would sanction such scrutiny if it believed — or had reason to suspect — that agents of a foreign government were operating within the Trump campaign.
“The FBI keeps track of people who act as agents for foreign governments,” he said. “They keep track of people who act as agents for the Chinese, the Russians, the Israelis, everybody.”
Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman, strongly denied that the former president issued orders regarding the surveillance of Trump Tower.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” Lewis said. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
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