Kellyanne Conway on Surveillance Comments: "I'm Not Inspector Gadget"
Trump's senior counselor took to Twitter and news shows on Monday to says she was speaking generally about how spying could take place, and was not making specific allegations during a Sunday interview.
Kellyanne Conway says she doesn't have any evidence to support President Donald Trump's claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower phone lines during the election.
Instead, the senior White House adviser is pointing to recent revelations about other government surveillance to suggest it was possible Obama used a different technique.
Her response was unlikely to tamp down criticism of Trump's tweets earlier this month. The House Intelligence Committee has asked the administration to provide evidence of the allegation by Monday.
"The answer is I don't have any evidence and I'm very happy that the House Intelligence Committee (is) investigating," Conway told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday. She later tweeted that the administration is "pleased" with the ongoing congressional investigation and "will comment after."
Trump's critics have slammed the president for making the explosive wiretapping claim on his Twitter account without evidence. Wiretapping a U.S. citizen would require special permission from a court, and Trump as president would have the ability to declassify that information.
James Clapper, who was Obama's director of national intelligence, has said that nothing matching Trump's claims had taken place.
Also this month, WikiLeaks released nearly 8,000 documents that purportedly reveal secrets about the CIA's tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and even smart TVs.
Conway had noted that development to justify Trump's claims.
"What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately," including "microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera," Conway told New Jersey's The Record newspaper in an interview Sunday. "So we know that that is just a fact of modern life."
On Monday, Conway told GMA she was misquoted.
"I wasn't making a suggestion about Trump Tower," she said, adding that she was answering a question about surveillance "generally," and without specific reference to the current controversy.
On CNN's New Day, Conway told Chris Cuomo the story had a "screaming headline" and insisted, "I'm not Inspector Gadget, I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign."
She repeated her GMA claim that she's not in the position of having evidence.
"That’s what investigations are for," she said. "I have said many, many times throughout the week that the president is pleased that the House and Senate intelligence committees have agreed that this should be part of the investigation that already exists about Russia and the campaign, an investigation that apparently has gone nowhere so far."
Cuomo pushed back, saying the type of message she appears to be putting out questions her personal integrity and "seems to be a distraction."
She also took to Twitter Monday morning to clarify that her comments to The Record were "about surveillance articles in news & techniques generally, not about campaign. Headline just wrong."
The Record headline reads: "Kellyanne Conway alludes to even wider surveillance of Trump campaign."
1/2: On wiretap claims, I have said many times that we are pleased the House/Senate Intel Committees are investigating & will comment after— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) March 13, 2017
2/2: response to Bergen Record was about surveillance articles in news & techniques generally, not about campaign. Headline just wrong.— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) March 13, 2017
Conway also shared Trump's Monday morning tweet against the media ("It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my very hard working representatives. Be nice, you will do much better!") and shared a pick-up of the story by tagging it with the hashtag #FakeNewsAlert.
Her comment about the '80s cartoon character, however, quickly made the rounds in the form of memes and GIFs on social media, including a response from CNN's Jake Tapper.
Inspector Gadget reacts pic.twitter.com/oUJwBZwPX7— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 13, 2017