Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz said Wednesday that his team did not find any evidence that Trump Tower was under government surveillance, after conducting an exhaustive review of FBI surveillance during the Russia investigation.
Horowitz debunked a conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump invented weeks after taking office in 2017. Horowitz made the comment at a Senate Homeland Security hearing about his report into the early stages of the Russia investigation.
“Did the report find that the FBI engaged in surveillance of Trump Tower?” Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, asked Horowitz.
Horowitz replied, “We did not find evidence of surveillance on Trump Tower.”
Trump levied the bombshell accusation in 2017 against former President Barack Obama, claiming that Obama personally ordered his phones to be wiretapped before the 2016 election, and has repeated versions of it since.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted, only six weeks after taking office, later adding, “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
No information has emerged to corroborate the claim that Trump’s calls were wiretapped or that Obama was involved. Some top Republicans dismissed the allegations, and the Justice Department said in court filings in September 2017 that it doesn’t have any evidence to back up what Trump said.
The Russia investigation did include wiretaps against a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, and the Horowitz review found serious problems with how those warrants were obtained. FBI informants also met with Page and two other Trump campaign aides, to ask them questions about their ties to Russia.
Horowitz said “all of the monitoring activities were approved” by the appropriate FBI leaders.
But the Justice Department watchdog report debunked several other Trump-backed conspiracy theories, in addition to the wiretap claims. The report highlighted how Trump relied on lies and falsehoods to attack the Russia probe that undermined the first two years of his presidency.
Despite this, Trump doubled down on his theories last week. He tweeted: “There was tremendous bias and guilt exposed, so obvious, but Horowitz couldn’t get himself to say it. Big credibility loss. Obama knew everything!”