Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on Friday that the network had “no evidence” that President Donald Trump was wiretapped during the election. His statement was made as a means to walk back claims made days prior by an analyst on Fox News, which have since been echoed throughout the Trump team.
“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now President of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way, full stop,” Smith said.
Trump did not back off his claim that President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the campaign. He also defended White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who at a press briefing on Thursday read from a Fox News report that Obama used British intelligence agencies to spy on Trump. That drew complaints from the British government, and statement from their spy agency denying the claim.
Asked about it at the press conference, Trump said, “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Trump was referring to Judge Andrew Napolitano, who made the claim on Fox News.
“Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” Smith said afterward.
At the press conference, both leaders tried to make gestures of support, but there was one awkward moment.
“As far as wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said, as Merkel gave him a puzzled look. Members of the press laughed.
Trump’s comment was a reference to a controversy during Obama’s administration, when there were reports that the National Security Agency monitored her cell phone. A German prosecutor later dropped an investigation into the alleged wiretapping for lack of concrete evidence.
Trump’s first meeting with Merkel as president has drawn intense interest because he was highly critical of her during the presidential campaign. While he had once praised her for doing a “fantastic” job, he later said that she was “ruining Germany” after Time picked her as its 2015 Person of the Year. He even derided Hillary Clinton for being “America’s Merkel,” as Trump railed against the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the United States and Europe.
They were polite, but hardly chummy, in their meeting on Friday. Merkel said that “immigration has to be worked on,” but that refugees needed “opportunities to shape their own lives where they are.”
Trump also was asked by a German reporter whether there were tweets that he regrets, and he responded, “Very seldom.” He reiterated that he sees the platform as a way to bypass what he calls the “dishonest media.”