By Brooke Seipel - 03-04-17 17:22 PM EST
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) on Saturday called on President Trump to release information backing up his bombshell claims that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.
"We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust, and the President's allegations today demand the thorough and dispassionate attention of serious patriots," Sasse said in a statement.
The GOP senator said that Trump's "very serious allegations" require he release more information.
Sasse noted that any such wiretap would have taken place with authorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, unless it took place without authorization.
"If without [authorization], the President should explain what sort of wiretap it was and how he knows this," Sasse said. "It is possible that he was illegally tapped."
Sasse said if there was a legal authorization for a phone tap, "an application for surveillance exists that the court found credible."
"The president should ask that this full application regarding surveillance of foreign operatives or operations be made available, ideally to the full public, and at a bare minimum to the U.S. Senate," Sasse said.
Sasse echoed remarks from fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who said Saturday he was "very worried" about Trump's claim that Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower before the November election.
Graham said that if a wiretap was illegal, it would be "the biggest political scandal since Watergate." But he also said that if the Obama administration was able to legally obtain a warrant to monitor Trump's campaign, that too would be a scandal.
Trump on Saturday claimed Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower before Election Day, tweeting the accusation without offering evidence.
"Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" Trump wrote.
"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!"
The New York Times, citing a senior White House official, reported that Trump's chief counsel Don McGahn was working Saturday to secure access to what he believed to be an order issued by the court authorizing some form of surveillance linked to Trump and those close to him.
The official didn't offer evidence supporting the idea that such an order exists, the Times reported. The newspaper noted that if such an order existed, it would be "highly unusual" for the White House to order that the Justice Department turn it over, given law enforcement's historical independence.
"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 earlier Saturday denying Trump's allegations that Obama ordered any surveillance of Trump.
"As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen," Lewis said. "Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."
"A quest for the full truth, rather than knee-jerk partisanship, must be our guide if we are going to rebuild civic trust and health," Sasse said.