Top NSA official ridicules allegation
Britain spied on Trump
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[March 18, 2017]
LONDON (Reuters) - Allegations from
the United States that British spy agency GCHQ snooped on Donald Trump
during his election campaign are "arrant nonsense", the deputy head of
the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said in an interview on
President Trump has stood by unproven claims that the Obama
administration tapped his phones during the 2016 White House race. On
Thursday his spokesman cited a media report that Britain's GCHQ was
behind the surveillance.
Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, told BBC News the idea that
Britain had a hand in spying on Trump was "just crazy".
"It belies a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship
works between the intel community agencies, it completely ignores the
political reality of 'would the UK government agree to do that?'",
There would be no advantage for Britain's government in spying on Trump,
given the potential cost, he said.
"It would be epically stupid," said Ledgett, who is due to retire
Current and former NSA officials have described an acrimonious
relationship between intelligence agencies and the Trump administration.
Trump, who became president in January, tweeted earlier this month that
his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama had wiretapped him during the
late stages of the 2016 campaign. The Republican president offered no
evidence for the allegation, which an Obama spokesman said was "simply
Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano on Tuesday accused the Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - the British equivalent of the NSA -
of having helped Obama to spy on Trump.
[to top of second column]
NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett answers questions during the
Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the House-passed Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act reform bill while on Capitol Hill in
Washington, June 5, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing
White House spokesman Sean Spicer quoted Napolitano's comments on
GCHQ said the claims it spied on Trump were "utterly ridiculous" and
should be ignored, in a rare public statement.
On Friday, Trump said questions on this should be asked of Fox News,
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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