ABC’s George Stephanopoulos called out deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ false claim that reporting in mainstream news outlets, such as The New York Times and BBC, substantiated President Donald Trump's false assertion that former President Barack Obama ordered that Trump Tower be wiretapped during the 2016 campaign. Sanders first made the suggestion on the March 5 edition of ABC's This Week, saying those outlets “have also talked about it and reported on the potential of this having had happened.” On the March 6 edition ABC's Good Morning America, Sanders repeated her claim that “the wiretapping has been discussed in The New York Times, BBC, Fox News.” Stephanopoulos slammed her claim, noting that “every single article you just mentioned does not back up the president's claim that President Obama had him wiretapped.” Stephanopoulos added, “One of them, based on anonymous sources, says there might have been a court ordered FISA wiretap. That has been denied by the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.” Additionally, Stephanopoulos pointed out that there is “a world of difference between an illegal wiretap ordered by a president and court-ordered wiretap approved by a federal judge.” As the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog explained, “No article says that Obama requested the order or that it resulted in the tapping of Trump's phone lines.” Similarly, PolitiFact wrote, “If the basis of Trump’s comment is media reports, he doesn’t have a case,” rating Sanders’ claim “false.” From the March 6 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): We now know that the FBI director has told the Justice Department that President Trump's explosive claims are inaccurate. Does President Trump accept the FBI director's denial?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: You know, I don't think he does, George. I think he firmly believes that this is a storyline that has been reported pretty widely by quite a few outlets. The wiretapping has been discussed in The New York Times, BBC, Fox News and we believe that it should be looked at by the House Intelligence Committee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, I have to stop you. Sarah, I have got to stop you right there. Every single article you just mentioned does not back up the president's claim that President Obama had him wiretapped. Not a single one of those articles backs that up. So, what is the president's evidence?
SANDERS: It does back up the fact that the administration was wiretapping American citizens. There was wide reporting suggesting that his administration, whether it was directly ordered by this president specifically, his administration could have done this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, I have got to stop you again. No, Sarah, I have gpt to stop you again because that is simply not true. All the articles you just mentioned, not one of them says that President Trump ordered a wiretap. One of them was based on --
SANDERS: President Obama.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Obama. One of them, based on anonymous sources, says there might have been a court ordered FISA wiretap. That has been denied by the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper.
SANDERS: Look, I love how anonymous sources don't matter anymore. We've been dealing with anonymous sources and having to fight back against that for the last six months. It's funny how the media now starts to --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Sarah, hold on a second. Sarah, even if that one is true, even if that one is true, that is saying there was a court-ordered wiretap, not an illegal wiretap ordered by President Obama.
SANDERS: Look, it would have been under this administration, George. You don't get to just wash your hands of something whether it's the Justice Department under which you control, which would have fallen under this administration and under this past president. I think the bigger question here is let's let the House Intelligence Committee do its job, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, that is simply -- that is not true.
SANDERS: They committed over the weekend --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, hold on a second. Hold on a second. That is not true. There is a world of difference between an illegal wiretap ordered by a president and court-ordered wiretap approved by a federal judge. There is a world of difference between those two things.