An intense exchange resulted when White House press secretary Sean Spicer sought to respond to NBC's Peter Alexander. The reporter questioned President Trump’s credibility after Spicer mentioned a quote by the president about the positive employment figures released by the government on Friday. Trump told the press secretary that jobs reports "may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now." During the election campaign and thereafter, Trump said that jobs reports were “totally fiction” and “phony.”
Alexander said, "You spoke on behalf of the president quoting him on the jobs report on Friday." He added, "You said they may have been phony in the past but it's very real now." Spicer interjected, "They are very real now." Alexander went on, "The question is, when should Americans trust the president?" Alexander asked, "Is it phony or real when he says President Obama was wiretapping?"
Alexander was referencing Trump’s tweet of last week in which he wrote that Obama had ordered wiretaps of communications at Trump Tower. So far, the White House has not released proof. Spicer said on Monday, “He doesn't really think that ... President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally." Alexander retorted, "He suggested that."
"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," Spicer said. "That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then. The president used air-quotes around the word wiretapping in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities."
Spicer claimed that "many news outlets" reported this during the election cycle. Obama has denied ordering wiretaps of the Trump organization. However, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote at National Review that Obama’s denial “seems disingenuous on several levels.” When a warrant is obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), “it is technically the FISA court that ‘orders’ surveillance.” Moreover, under the law, “it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court.” McCarthy wrote on January 11 that McCarthy wrote presciently on Jan. 11 that “[t]he idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.”
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