White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied the Trump administration apologized to the U.K. government after citing a Fox News report claiming a British intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump when he was a candidate at the request of Barack Obama.
On Thursday, Spicer quoted the Fox News report as saying: “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command.” It drew rebuke from the GCHQ, the U.K. intelligence agency and triggered a torrent of reports, citing intelligence sources, claiming Spicer and General McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser, apologized over the claims.
When Spicer was asked about the claims and reports at a daily briefing, he said there were no regrets.
“I don’t think we regret anything,” Spicer told the press, according to a live stream of his conference. “We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain.”
Responding to the reports, the White House issued a statement, saying Spicer was “simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”
Trump, meanwhile, said he had no opinion on the matter.
“I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox,” the president said. “And so you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox. Okay?”
As The Telegraph reported, a spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said the White House assured its counterpart that allegations that the GCHQ spied on Trump won’t be repeated.
Specifically, Spicer cited Fox analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano as saying:
Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ. What is that? It’s the initials for the British intelligence-finding agency. So, simply by having two people saying to them president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump’s conversations, involving president-elect Trump, he’s able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this. Putting the published accounts and common-sense together, this leads to a lot.