Donald Trump’s controversial claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign has been dismissed by the former director of both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.
Michael Hayden replied with a categoric “no” when asked on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert whether the former President had ordered surveillance on Mr Trump's office.
"In the 1970s, we took the authority to direct that action out of the hands of the President and we put it in the hands of the federal court system,” said the retired US Air Force general.
General Hayden agreed that this power had been removed from US leaders after the Watergate scandal, when the Democratic headquarters were spied on with the knowledge of President Richard Nixon. Mr Nixon was forced to resign over the scandal.
The only part of the US Government that has the authority to authorise wiretaps is "a federal judge”, General Hayden explained.
Mr Trump made the allegation on Twitter, but has subsequently failed to provide any evidence to back up his claim.
“On Saturday morning, he seemed to have forgotten that he was the President of the United States,” General Hayden said, when asked why Mr Trump would make such allegations.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
He said Mr Trump could have contacted former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and FBI director James Comey to relay his suspicions, instead of sharing them with his 26.2 million Twitter followers.
General Hayden also responded to a report from WikiLeaks which claimed the CIA is hacking smart phones and televisions to spy on their owners.
“I can tell you that these tools would not be used against an American,” he said.
Mr Obama was said to be "furious" about the allegations which saw Mr Trump brand him a “sick or bad” man.
His official spokesman, Kevin Lewis, strenuously denied them on his behalf.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” he said in a statement.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”