U.S.

Donald Trump Says His 2017 Claim Obama Had Wiretapped Him Was Based on a ‘Little Bit of a Hunch’

President Donald Trump on Thursday revealed that his March 2017 claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower was made on “a little bit of a hunch” and called it “a coup.”

The president made the comments during a roughly 45-minute phone call to Sean Hannity that was aired live on Fox News’ Hannity Thursday evening, where the president covered a range of issues.

“It’s a coup. It’s spying. It’s everything that you would have imagined. It’s hard to believe in this country that we would have had that,” Trump said of the alleged improper conduct by federal agents, which the president claims began during his campaign and continued after he was inaugurated in 2017.

“I don’t know if you remember, a long time ago, I used the words 'wire tap' and I put it in quotes, meaning surveillance, spying, you can sort of say whatever you want,” the president continued.

“Now I understand why, because they thought two years ago when I said that on a little bit of a hunch, a little bit of wisdom maybe, it blew up because they thought maybe I was wise to them,” Trump added. “They were caught. And that’s why. If they weren’t doing anything wrong it would've just gotten by. Nobody would’ve cared about it... You see now they’re trying to infiltrate the White House long after the election. It’s a disgrace.”

Trump admitted that he thought it was “pretty insignificant” when he made the allegations in 2017.

With no evidence, Trump accused Obama of spying on his campaign on Twitter just months after he was inaugurated. “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!,” Trump tweeted on March 4, 2017, from Mar-a-Lago.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” Trump added in another tweet.

An Obama spokesperson denied the allegations at the time, calling them “simply false.”

In a court filing that September, the Justice Department confirmed that it was not aware of any evidence to support Trump’s claims that the Obama administration had surveilled Trump Tower in 2016. It added that the FBI also had no evidence suggesting it happened, even though Trump has continued to spread the allegation.

Attorney General William Barr told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10 that he believed the government did spy on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign during his second consecutive day of testimony on Capitol Hill.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr told lawmakers, “but the question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.

“For the same reason, we’re worried about foreign influence in elections.... I think spying on a political campaign—it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal,” he added.

When asked to clarify, Barr noted that he couldn’t provide “specific evidence” but asserted that he had “questions” and “concerns about various aspects of it.”

GettyImages-1144877193 President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn after he returned to the White House, on April 24. Trump called into Fox News’ “Hannity” on Thursday evening for a roughly 45-minute discussion, when he talked about his 2017 “hunch” that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped his campaign. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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