Donald Trump has 'no regrets' about accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping, says Sean Spicer

Harriet Alexander

Donald Trump has "no regrets" about accusing his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower, the White House press secretary has insisted.

Sean Spicer said that Mr Trump's explosive allegations over the weekend still stood, and that the president would now wait for investigations to run their course.

Asked whether it was not a waste of time and money for congressional and senatorial committees to investigate Mr Trump's baseless allegations, Mr Spicer replied that it was "not about new proof". 

The White House press secretary devoted much of his press conference to detailing Monday night's proposal for a new Republican healthcare plan.

He also sought to clarify Mr Trump's accusation that Mr Obama had made “another terrible decision” to release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay - and wrongly stating official figures to justify his attack.

In a day which was designed to be all about the Republicans’ much-vaunted healthcare plans, Mr Trump started the day by claiming that 122 “vicious” Guantanamo inmates had returned to the battlefield, “released by the Obama administration”. 

In fact, only nine of the 122 were released under Mr Obama’s administration, according to the September report by the Director of National Intelligence.

The vast majority - 113 – were released by George W Bush.

The Guantanamo Bay detention centre, in Cuba - Credit: AP

And the Twitter storm came, as ever, during the morning breakfast shows. Mr Trump appeared at times to be live-tweeting Fox News, joining in the conversation with their Twitter handle @FoxAndFriends.

He then launched a defence of his six-week old administration, amid a series of reports at the weekend detailing blazing, expletive-filled rows within the Oval Office, and staff members being “grounded” in Mr Trump’s fury.

“Don't let the FAKE NEWS tell you that there is big infighting in the Trump Admin. We are getting along great, and getting major things done!” he tweeted.

He also then went on to express his support for the Republican plans to repeal and replace the hated Obamacare health system, which were unveiled on Monday night.


Democrats reacted with predictable anger, pointing out that there was no detail on how the scheme would be paid for and saying it would harm poorer Americans.

“Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader of the senate.

More worryingly for the Republicans, many within their own party expressed concerns. Rand Paul, the high-profile Kentucky senator, described it as “Obamacare light,” saying it did not go far enough.


The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, also described it as “flawed”, and on Tuesday night the Freedom Caucus, a group of around 30 hard-liners in the House who criticised earlier versions of the bill, will meet to discuss the health-care bill, and consider presenting a list of demands to Republican leaders.

Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman who is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made a clumsy defence of the plan, and brushed off the suggestion that it could lead to less coverage for low-income Americans.

“Americans have choices, and they have got to make a choice,” he said. “So maybe rather than getting that iPhone they just love, that they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”

A new iPhone currently costs around $700 (£575). But a year of health insurance for an individual is over $6,000, meaning that an iPhone is only slightly more than one month of insurance.


Justice Department wants its appeal of old travel ban dismissed

The U.S. Justice Department wants to dismiss its appeal of a federal judge's ruling that temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's initial travel ban.

The motion filed on Tuesday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes one day after Trump signed a revised ban, which goes into effect on March 16.

The new version is narrower and seeks to ease concerns about violating the due process rights of travelers from six predominantly Muslim nations.

After Trump signed the first executive order in January, Washington state and Minnesota sued to stop it, arguing that it was unconstitutional. A federal judge in Seattle put the ban on hold while the case moved forward.

The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit.

A spokesman said Monday that the appeals court was evaluating the new order's effect on the case. 


Trump discussing healthcare plan

Donald Trump is holding a meeting at the White House to discuss healthcare reform.

You have to remember Obamacare is collapsing.

It's a bad plan.

 No waiting, no more excuses.

You're the leaders that will get it done.

If you wait two years it will implode - it's already pretty much imploding. It's a disaster.

Some states are already up over 100pc in costs.

I think we'll have tremendous success. It's a complicated process. But we'll have good healthcare.

I hope it will go very quickly.

And after that we'll look at tax. It'll put our companies in great shape. A massive tax cut.


Republican critics of healthcare plan speak out

A group of Republican politicians are holding an impromptu press conference to condemn Republican plans for healthcare reform.

Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, says:

We are divided on the plan.

He's calling for all the different plans to be voted on.

Mike Lee, a senator from Utah, says:

Let's move forward in a process in which we can put forward different ideas.

Now Mark Sanford, a congressman from South Carolina, is speaking:

Sean Spicer said repeatedly that the healthcare bill is a work in progress.

The simple question is: do we need to lower the bar for what we believe in as conservatives?

Let's not lower the bar.

And Louis Gohmert, a congressman from Texas, adds:

I'm glad we have finally got a bill out that is not 2,500 pages.

But there are things that have to be done.


Spicer wraps up the 90 minute press conference

So, what have we learnt?

  1. Trump does not regret tweeting accusations that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
  2. Spicer rejects claim that Trump is wasting Congress time by ordering investigation to find evidence.
  3. Spicer says Trump "obviously" meant to refer to the total number of Guantanamo prisoners released.
  4. Spicer spells out benefits of Republicans' new healthcare plans.


Back to wiretapping

Spicer asked again about Trump's accusations that Obama tapped Trump Tower.

He is asked:

You've said that the president stands by his tweets. Why does the president want congress to investigate for information he already has?


Spicer replies:

It's not a question of wasting time. It's appropriateness.

I think there's a difference between directing congress to investigate.

I think we've made it very clear how he wants this to proceed.


"A committee to find proof for a president?"

Spicer is asked whether it's now the new normal for the president to make an accusation, and a committee to try and see if it's true or not.

It's a good question: there is as yet no evidence to back up Mr Trump's claim that Mr Obama wiretapped him.

Trump Tower

Spicer says:

I take issue with that.

It's not a question of new proof.

It's that they have the resources and the staff to fully investigate.

It's not that he is walking it back.

It's just that they have the appropriate resources.


Back to wiretapping

Spicer asked about evidence for wiretapping:

I answered the question yesterday, on camera, on air.

Nothing has changed.

The answer is the same.

I think there is concern about what happened in the 2016 election.

The house and senate committees have capacity.

Let them do their job, and report back to the American people.

We're seeing leaks over and over again, damaging to national security.


Spicer says new plan shows end of "big government"

Sean Spicer returns to the pile of papers.

He uses it to illustrate that the Republican plan for healthcare is simpler; one pile of documents is much smaller than the other.

When you look at the difference, this is what big government does.

Our bill, which is a tenth of the size, repeals and replaces.

That's a big difference.


Spicer asked about Guantanamo tweet

Spicer clarifies Trump's tweet.

Obviously the president meant in totality.

The total was 122, so that is correct.

Guantanamo Bay prisoners in 2002

He's then asked about Wikileaks release of data about CIA spying.

I'm not going to comment on that. 


Spicer asked about North Korea

He says the president is "very concerned".

There will be a UN Security Council meeting on it, possibly tomorrow.

North Koreas nuclear history: key moments



Spicer returns to the topic of repealing Obamacare

- it's evidently something he wants to steer the conversation towards.

It's far more positive for the White House to be discussing this, rather than the president's Twitter accusations.



Spicer asked about wiretapping claims.

The White House has no further comment.

I think if we were to get involved you would write stories about how we were getting involved.

As the president said, that investigation - as well as other investigations into classified leaks - will take place.

He has been very clear what his role is and what he wants to happen.

I'll leave it at that.


Wiretapping: What you need to know

Expect Sean Spicer to be asked about Mr Trump's tweeting at the weekend.

 Here's what you need to know.


Spicer returns to the podium

Now we may hear questions on wiretapping allegations, the travel ban and Mr Trump's wrongly accusing Obama of releasing 122 Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who returned to terrorism.

Of the 122, Mr Obama was only responsible for nine.

113 were released under George W Bush.

Sean Spicer



State Department press conference next

My colleague Rob Crilly notes:

The State Department is resuming its daily briefings.

Journalists had criticised Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, for his reluctance to speak before the media and his department for failing to put up a spokesman for regular briefings....



Price has props for his talk...

Uh oh. Tom Price, the health secretary, has brought along props for his speech.

There's a pile of papers to his right, which he gestures to to explain that the healthcare plan is "a work in progress".

Remember the last time that happened?



Price asked about "healthcare vs iPhone"

Tom Price, the healthcare secretary, is asked about comments by Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman who is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He made a clumsy defence of the plan on Tuesday morning, and brushed off the suggestion that it could lead to less coverage for low-income Americans.

“Americans have choices, and they have got to make a choice.

"So maybe rather than getting that iPhone they just love, that they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.

A new iPhone currently costs around $700 (£575). But a year of health insurance for an individual is over $6,000, meaning that an iPhone is only slightly more than one month of insurance.

Mr Price only says that he is committed to working for all Americans, and improving choice.


Tom Price outlines healthcare plan

He says:

The goal of all of this is patient-centred healthcare.

It's not about money.




Spicer introduces health secretary, Tom Price

Mr Price is explaining the plans, unveiled last night, to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Donald Trump | His first two weeks in power



Spicer begins speaking

  • Denounces the latest anti-Semitic threats.
  • Says Trump yesterday:

"delivered on two most significant promises: protecting the country from radical Islamic terrorism, and repealing and replacing Obamacare."


Sean Spicer due to speak at 1:30pm

It will be his first press conference since Mr Trump's explosive allegations about his predecessor at the weekend.



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