Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim
WASHINGTON — FBI Director James B. Comey asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Donald Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Trump’s phones, senior U.S. officials said Sunday. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
华盛顿——数名美国高层官员周日表示，联邦调查局局长詹姆斯·B·科米(James B. Comey)上周末要求司法部公开驳斥唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)总统有关贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)总统曾下令窃听特朗普电话的断言。他们表示，科米称这个极为敏感的说法是假的，必须予以纠正，但司法部尚未发布过任何此类声明。
Comey, who made the request Saturday after Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the FBI broke the law, the officials said.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.
FBI的一名发言人拒绝就此置评。司法部发言人莎拉·伊斯格尔·弗洛雷斯(Sarah Isgur Flores)也拒绝置评。
Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Trump’s administration.
The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said that Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.
Along with concerns about the potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior FBI officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.
One problem Comey has faced is that there are few senior politically appointed officials at the Justice Department who can make the decision to release a statement, the officials said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself Thursday from all matters related to the federal investigation into connections between Trump, his associates and Russia.
Comey’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering is certain to invite contrasts to his actions last year, when he spoke publicly about the Hillary Clinton email case and disregarded Justice Department entreaties not to.
It is not clear why Comey did not issue the statement himself. He is the most senior law enforcement official who was kept on the job as the Obama administration gave way to the Trump administration. And while the Justice Department applies for intelligence-gathering warrants, the FBI keeps its own set of records and is in position to know whether Trump’s claims are true. While intelligence officials do not normally discuss the existence or nonexistence of surveillance warrants, no law prevents Comey from issuing the statement.
In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the president, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, issued a statement Sunday that said, “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.”
Spicer, who repeated the entire statement in a series of Twitter messages, added that “neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”
A spokesman for Obama and his former aides have called the accusation by Trump completely false, saying that Obama never ordered any wiretapping of a U.S. citizen.
“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,” Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said in a statement Saturday.
Trump’s demand for a congressional investigation appears to be based, at least in part, on unproven claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.
特朗普要求国会进行调查的要求似乎是基于——至少部分如此——布莱巴特新闻(Breitbart News)和保守派电台听众热线节目上一些未经证实的说法，它们称政府发布秘密许可，授权对特朗普及其助手在纽约特朗普大厦(Trump Tower)的通话进行监听。
In a series of Twitter messages Saturday, the president seemed to be convinced that those claims were true. In one post, Trump said, “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
On Sunday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, said the president was determined to find out what had really happened, calling it potentially the “greatest abuse of power” that the country has ever seen.
周六，白宫副发言人萨拉·赫卡比·桑德斯(Sarah Huckabee Sanders)表示，总统决心查明究竟发生了什么，称它有可能是这个国家有史以来“最严重的权力滥用”。