U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says President Trump owes it to the nation to explain why he claimed former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the presidential campaign last fall.
“I don’t know the basis for President Trump’s assertion and that’s what I wish he would explain to us on the Intelligence Committee and to the American people,” Maine’s senior senator said in an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I do believe he owes us that explanation.”
Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has previously said that Trump should let the committee know about any evidence of his claim.
In an appearance March 5 on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” Collins said it would be helpful if Trump stopped commenting on the investigation and “let us do our work.”
On Sunday, Collins, a Republican, also weighed in on the president’s proposed budget, saying “one of the most disturbing parts” was cuts to the National Institutes of Health.
“If we’re serious about reducing health care costs, the last thing we should be doing is cutting money for biomedical research,” she said in the interview from Bangor. She said she supported the increased spending for veterans and the military.
She also was asked by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd if she felt she could take Trump “at his word.”
“Yes. Do I think the president gets everything right? No,” she said, adding that she ultimately wants Trump, like any president of the United States, to be successful.
“That doesn’t mean I support his policies. And it doesn’t mean I’m going to be with him when I think he’s wrong, or when he’s misstated what the facts are,” she said.
The wiretapping issue was revived Friday when Trump refused to back down from his claim, citing a Fox News analyst’s contention that GCHQ, the British electronic intelligence agency, had helped Obama wiretap Trump. The agency strongly denied the report as “utterly ridiculous,” The Associated Press reported.
“All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television,” Trump said during a news conference Friday. “You shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer was also defiant Friday, telling reporters, “I don’t think we regret anything.”
The White House has asked the House and Senate intelligence committees to investigate the matter as part of their inquiries into Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election and possible contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. But the top lawmakers on both committees have said they have seen no indications that Trump Tower was wiretapped.
Collins said Sunday that the Senate Intelligence Committee planned to look into it.
“We’re in the midst of a big investigation and we want to look at this allegation as well,” she said.
The Justice Department said Friday that it had complied with congressional requests for information related to any surveillance during the 2016 election. The department would not comment further on what information, if any, was provided.
Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at: