Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Friday refused to disown claims, highlighted by his White House, that British intelligence tapped his phones following a request by President Barack Obama last year, risking a deepening rift with America’s key ally.
Trump’s aides had earlier attempted to quell British anger over the claims, based on a Fox News report cited by his press secretary, Sean Spicer, in a briefing Thursday, by explaining the comment to the UK government.
But in an awkward moment on live television while meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel — whose cell phone was once tapped by the National Security Agency — Trump quipped that he and the German leader had something in common.
Trump’s response further fueled a controversy about his claims he was wiretapped by Obama — first made on Twitter two weeks ago — which have been rejected by senior members of House and Senate Intelligence committees. The White House has produced no evidence to back up the allegations.