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President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama, right, arrive for Trump?s inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool(reuters_tickers)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican lawmaker who heads a House of Representatives oversight panel said on Monday he had seen no direct evidence to back U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped him.
"Thus far, I have not seen anything directly that would support what the president has said," Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told CBS in an interview.
The Republican president alleged on Saturday, without offering supporting evidence, that Democrat Obama ordered a wiretap of the phones at Trump's 2016 presidential campaign headquarters in Trump Tower in New York.
The White House asked the Republican-controlled Congress to examine, as part of an ongoing congressional probe into Russia's influence on the election, whether the Obama administration abused its investigative authority.
FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department this weekend to reject Trump's wiretapping claim because it was false and must be corrected, a federal law enforcement official said, but the department has not done so.
Chaffetz said it would take a while for a House Intelligence panel investigating the alleged Russia links to get to the bottom of the wiretapping allegation and that his committee would play a supporting role in that.
The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, on Monday called on the Department of Justice's inspector general to probe any possible political interference in its investigation of contacts between Trump's associates and Russia.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Howard Goller)