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McCain calls on Trump to retract wiretapping claim or prove it

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain said Sunday that President Donald Trump should either retract or substantiate his claim that President Barack Obama wire-tapped him in the final weeks of the presidential campaign and added he expects more to come on Russia’s meddling in the US election.

“President Trump has to provide the American people — not just the intelligence committee, but the American people — with evidence that this predecessor, former President of the United States, is guilty of breaking the law because our Director of National Intelligence, General Clapper, testified that there was ‘absolutely’ no truth to that allegation. So 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’ve got a serious issue here, not to say the least.”

McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he had “no reason to believe” Trump’s allegation, which the President has not supported with any evidence and which a White House official said was prompted by a Breitbart article.

“I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the President of the United States could clear this up in a minute,” McCain told anchor Jake Tapper. “All he has to do is pick up the phone, call the director of the CIA, director of national intelligence and say, ‘OK, what happened?'”

The Arizona Republican said Trump’s accusation must be resolved; if left hanging, “it undermines the confidence the American people have in the entire way the that the government does business,” he said.

Through his spokesman, Obama denied Trump’s accusation, as have other current and former national security figures.

McCain also expressed his concern with the mounting questions about the relationships between Russian officials and people tied to Trump, who advocated for better relations with Russia during the campaign.

“There’s a lot of aspects of this whole relationship with Russia and (Russian President) Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny, and so far, I don’t think the American people have gotten all the answers,”McCain said. “In fact, I think there’s a lot more shoes to drop from this centipede.”

McCain, who has advocated a hard line against Russia, called into question the failure of the Republican Party to adopt at its 2016 national convention a plank for the provision of defensive weapons to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

“Why was that taken out of the Republican platform?” McCain asked. “Clearly, it was not the will of most Republicans.”

As president, Obama weighed the idea of arming Ukraine, but ultimately did not proceed with such a move.

McCain also named several of Trump’s associates, including ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who reportedly had communications with members of the Russian government during the campaign.

He said Trump confidant Roger Stone also needed to be questioned in addition to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, accusing both of questionable ties to the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

“This whole issue of the relationship with the Russians and who communicated with them and under what circumstances clearly cries out for investigations, but I would also point out, we should not assume guilt until we have a thorough investigation,” McCain said.