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Trump, confronted on wiretapping claims, tells Merkel: 'At least we have something in common, perhaps'

March 17,2017 23:04

trump merkel President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint news conference on March 17. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP. President Donald Trump, confronted about his explosive claim that he had been wiretapped by his ...



President
Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint news
conference on March 17.
Pablo Martinez
Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump, confronted about his explosive claim that he had been
wiretapped by his predecessor, told German Chancellor Angela
Merkel during a Friday news conference, "At least we have
something in common, perhaps."

The jab was a reference to reports in 2013 that said the National
Security Agency, under President Barack Obama, had been
intercepting Merkel's phone calls and spying on German officials.

Der Spiegel reported at the time that the NSA had been using
the US embassy in Berlin as a listening station.

Merkel
called Obama in October 2013 and demanded he explain the
reports, and Germany launched an investigation into the matter.
The White House denied that Merkel had ever been a surveillance
target, and the probe was
ultimately dropped. But
many experts later said that it was
fairly standard practice for friendly nations to spy on one
another.

Trump made the comment as the White House faced a
new wave of backlash related to Trump's allegations against
Obama. On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer
read from unverified reports that said a
British intelligence agency, the Government Communications
Headquarters, or GCHQ, conspired with Obama to wiretap Trump
before the election.

The accusation was first leveled by Andrew Napolitano, a former
judge, on Fox News.

Spicer's comment prompted a near-immediate reaction from GCHQ,
which released a rare public statement categorically denying any
involvement and calling the accusation "utterly ridiculous."

"Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew
Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct 'wiretapping'
against the then president-elect are nonsense," the statement
read. "They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored."

When asked on Friday if the White House regretted accusing the UK
of helping Obama wiretap Trump Tower, Trump said that "all we did
was quote" a Fox commentator, so "you should be talking to Fox."

Fox released a statement on Friday saying that Napolitano stood
by his reporting, but Fox News host Shep Smith later said, "Fox
News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary.

"Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president
of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full
stop," Smith said.

Watch the exchange between Merkel and Trump:

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