The White House has assured the Government that allegations that British intelligence services spied on Donald Trump will not be repeated, Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman has said.
GCHQ described as “utterly ridiculous” the claims, repeated by the US president’s official spokesman, that the eavesdropping agency was used by Barack Obama to spy on Mr Trump before last year’s election.
The Government then “made clear” to the US that the “ridiculous” claims should be ignored and received assurances in return that they will not be repeated, showing that the administration does not give them any credence, Mrs May’s spokesman said.
At a regular Westminster briefing, Mrs May’s spokesman refused to say whether the US apologised in its conversation with the British ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, and the PM’s National Security Adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant.
The PM’s spokesman said: “We have made clear to the (US) administration that these claims are ridiculous and that they should be ignored and we have received assurances that these allegations won’t be repeated.”
Asked if the allegations posed problems for the special UK-US relationship, he replied: “We have a close, special relationship with the White House and that allows us to raise concerns as and when they arise as was true in this case.”
He added: “We have received assurances that these allegations won’t be repeated and this shows the administration doesn’t give the allegations any credence.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., pushed back against his Senate counterparts’ categorical conclusion that Trump Tower was never under surveillance during the campaign or presidential transition.
Nunes stood by his Wednesday assertion that there was no “physical” wiretap on then-candidate and President-elect Trump. But beyond that, he said, is unknowable.
“I don’t know how anybody would have that information, with that different information than me, because we know that Flynn was picked up” by surveillance not directed at him, Nunes said about Gen. Michael Flynn, who stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser after undisclosed conversations he had with Russia’s U.S. ambassador came to public attention.
“We don’t know the extent of that, how widespread…and that’s why we’ve asked a whole series of questions that we need a lot of data for from the agencies” to answer, he said.
There was no physical wiretap on Trump but “you can’t rule out surveillance because we know for a fact that they picked up incidental collection on General Flynn—now we don’t know if that was it,” Nunes told reporters on Thursday.