SENATE

Cotton 'sure' Senate Intelligence panel will address Trump wiretapping claim

Senate Intelligence Committee member on 'Fox News Sunday'

 

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton expressed certainty Sunday that President Trump’s accusation about the Obama administration wiretapping Trump's presidential campaign will be included in the Senate Intelligence committee’s ongoing probe into Russia’s possible efforts to “undermine the U.S. political system.”

“We’ve already begun an inquiry on the intelligence committee into Russia’s efforts to undermine confidence in our political system,” Cotton, a Republican committee member, told “Fox News Sunday.” “That inquiry is going to be thorough, and we’re going to follow the facts wherever they lead us. And I’m sure that this matter will be a part of that inquiry.”

Cotton spoke one day after Trump said former President Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped and minutes after the White House called for congressional investigations into the matter.

Cotton also said he didn’t know whether the Obama administration received the requisite federal court order for such wiretapping, which requires some evidence of a crime.

And he repeated that he’s so far seen no proof that the Trump campaign successfully conspired with the Russian government to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve seen no evidence,” Cotton told Fox. “And, again, I would just say that media reports have gotten pretty far over their skis over this.”

Trump has based his wiretap allegation on a recent Breitbart News story and comments by conservative talk-show host Mark Levin, but has yet to provide his own evidence.

The allegation follows ongoing questions about whether Russia was involved in the White House race. The U.S. intelligence committee has said the former Cold War enemy indeed “meddled” in the race, but found no evidence of vote tampering.

Cotton's remarks were followed by California Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the Republican-led House Intelligence committee, who also said his panel will look into the matter. 

“One of the focus points of the ... committee's investigation is the U.S. government's response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign," he said. "As such, the committee will make inquiries into whether the (U.S.) government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates."

However, Califormia Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on that commitee, on Sunday dismissed Trump's wiretap claim.

"For a president of the United States to make such an incendiary charge -- and one that discredits our democracy in the eyes of the world -- is as destructive as it was baseless," he said.

"If the administration truly believes that President Obama illegally eavesdropped on the Trump campaign and wants our committee to investigate the matter, they should join my call on (FBI) Director James Comey to answer any question put to him that is pertinent to the Russia investigation."

Cotton, a Trump supporter who served Army combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, also argued Sunday that Trump’s policies are nothing like a pro-Russia agenda, which would include efforts to “slash defense spending” and halt the production of domestic energy like oil and gas.

Trump, in roughly his first seven weeks in office, has called for a $54 billion increase in Defense spending, ordered the completion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and vowed to revive the domestic coal industry.