FBI Director James Comey asked the Department of Justice to “publicly reject” President Donald Trump’s explosive allegation over the weekend that then-President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump’s communications during the presidential campaign, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Comey said that Trump’s claim, which he tweeted early on Saturday without offering any evidence, “is false and must be corrected,” according to unnamed U.S. officials who spoke with the Times. The Justice Department, led by Trump-nominated Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has not done so yet.
NBC News has since confirmed the story:
Staffing issues in the upper ranks of the department stalled Comey’s request, per the Times:
“One problem Mr. Comey has faced is that there are few senior politically appointed officials at the Justice Department who can make the decision to release a statement, the officials said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself on Thursday from all matters related to the federal investigation into connections between Mr. Trump, his associates and Russia.
The White House did not offer any evidence to back up Trump’s claim over the weekend. Instead, on Sunday, it called on Congress to investigate the matter alongside the lawmakers’ probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“If this happened,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week,” “this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal.”
Through a spokesperson, Obama denied that he or anyone in his White House had ordered a wiretap of Trump’s communications. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, also said Sunday that Trump’s presidential campaign was not wiretapped under his watch.
Trump and Sessions attended a charity event at the president’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, over the weekend. According to The Palm Beach Post, Sessions was spotted greeting guests at the estate.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Trump’s private club is located in West Palm Beach, Florida.