United Kingdom Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace dismissed President Donald Trump’s claims that the country spied on the Trump campaign before the 2016 presidential election, although he fell short of issuing an official denial.
President Trump and his allies have made multiple unsubstantiated claims that British Intelligence tapped phones in Trump Tower at the request of former President Barack Obama.
In an interview with CNN, Wallace stressed the claims were wrong, adding that intelligence officials had more pressing matters.
“I don’t think our intelligence services have any spare capacity to spend time spying on our friends and allies. You know, if you want to know what’s going on in American politics, switch on the news, go to a press conference, and you can find out what’s going on,” the minister said when asked about the matter.
President Trump first made the uncorroborated claim shortly after taking office, citing a Fox News report. The accusation was immediately denied by GCHQ, the UK intelligence and security organization, which they deemed “nonsense.”
It was later reported that during the campaign, several European intelligence agencies, including the GCHQ, intercepted communications between Trump’s associates, Russian officials and other Russian individuals during their routine surveillance of the Russian individuals, and passed those communications to the U.S. The surveillance was not targeted at members of the Trump campaign.
However, that has not stopped Trump from repeating the false claim on multiple occasions, including in a tweet last month.
In the interview, Wallace again brushed the accusation off, saying that “In the days of social media, there’s an awful lot of speculation that goes on about these things. There is no big conspiracy, and the idea that I would take an intelligence officer off a job of, I don’t know, targeting al Qaeda in a place that’s of mutual (interest) to us, to put him on spying of a campaign, of a presidential candidate, I think it’s just not — it’s not going to be the reality.”