White House backpedals over Spicer claim about British Intelligence and Trump surveillance

A day after President Donald Trump's top spokesman repeated accusations from a Fox News analyst that British Intelligence had helped with Obama Administration surveillance of Trump Tower in 2016, the White House was forced to backpedal, as the British Government asked the Trump Administration on Friday not to repeat that charge in public again.

"We’ve received assurances that these allegations won’t be repeated," was the message from 10 Downing Street, as British Intelligence officials labeled the allegation "ridiculous."

The dustup stemmed from Thursday's press briefing at the White House, where Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated an accusation that the GCHQ - Britain's intelligence arm - had helped with surveillance of the Trump campaign in the United States.

Here is what Spicer said on Thursday:

"Last, on Fox News on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement.  “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command."

"He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use the Department of Justice.  He used GCHQ, what is that?  It’s the initials for the British Intelligence Spying Agency," Spicer said.

The diplomatic and intelligence row was big news Friday morning in London, as the British Government looked for a public explanation from the White House.

Spicer had used the details during an extended back-and-forth with reporters on Thursday about President Trump's claim from earlier this month that he had been "wiretapped" by ex-President Obama.

The White House has not provided any evidence to back up that claim; Spicer mentioned the GCHQ charge while pushing back against questions related to Mr. Trump's tweets from almost two weeks ago.

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