File photo taken on Jan. 20, 2017 shows U.S. President Donald Trump (L, front) is greeted by former U.S. President Barack Obama after delivering his inaugural address at the Capitol in Washington D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
WASHINGTON, March 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump means general surveillance when tweeting his Obama wiretapping accusation, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday.
"I think there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election," Spicer said at White House daily press briefing.
"The president used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities." said Spicer.
"The House and the Senate Intelligence Committees will now look into that and provide a report back. I think there's been numerous reports from a variety of outlets over the last couple months that seem to indicate that there has been different types of surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election," he added.
Being asked whether Americans "can trust it to be real" when Trump comments on something, Spicer answered yes unless the president is joking.
"If he's not joking, of course," Spicer replied. "Every time that he speaks authoritatively, he's speaking as president of United States."
Spicer's remarks came after mounting pressure from the Capitol seeking the Trump administration for evidence that the phones at Trump Tower were tapped prior to the Election Day.
"I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because, if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we have got a serious issue here, to say the least," John McCain, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday.
On March 4, Trump claimed in a tweet storm that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower before his election victory, offering no evidence.
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump tweeted.
"Is it legal for a sitting president to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!" he added in subsequent tweets.
"I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!"
"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad(or sick) guy!" Trump said on Twitter, spelling "tap" as "tapp" .
Hours after Trump tweeted, Obama's spokesman said Trump's wiretapping accusation is "simply false".
"A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice," Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement.
"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false." said Lewis.
Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to Obama, tweeted at the time that presidents can't simply order wiretaps as Trump suggests.
There have been suggestions that contacts between Trump campaign team and Russia were picked up by intelligence agencies as part of routine surveillance of the Russians. Trump and his aides have denied there were any improper contacts.