Britain is seething after the #White House suggested that President Obama deployed a #British spy agency in London to spy on #trump whilst he was running in the US presidential campaign last year.
The secret surveillance claim was received with anger and yet the White House didn't apologize or try and rectify the situation publicly. This comes as critics are asserting that Trump's foreign policy and international diplomacy skills are lacking, and that the new President is throwing offside, and even alienating, many countries that were once seen as #key US allies.
A spokesman for the #British Prime Minister Theresa May said the White House had backtracked on the allegation on Friday, even though much was being made in the British press. “We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored,” the spokesman said under anonymity as British protocol dictates. “We’ve received assurances these allegations won’t be repeated.”
The reassurances were received after British insiders had grumbled to White House officials on Thursday. The British Ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch, talked with White House press secretary #Sean Spicer at a Saint Patrick’s Day event in DC on Thursday. This was only a few hours after Spicer made the British spy claim at his everyday briefing.Theresa May's #national security adviser, Mark Lyall Grant, also spoke one-to-one with his American counterpart, Lt General McMaster.
“Ambassador Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster,” a White House official said in an anonymous capacity of the #private conversations that had taken place. “Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”
Alternate facts and fake news
This debacle echoes the tendency the current administration has of, according to its critics, holding onto misleading or #unverified facts, something that in an era of 'fake news' claims has baffled many in Washington.
#Sean Spicer didn't apologize for his statements, according to White House officials. The same officials couldn't verify whether General McMaster had apologized either.
The debacle with Britain emerged when Spicer was defending Trump's original accusation, about Obama spying on him, and referenced some comments from Fox news that alleged a #British spy agency was involved. That Fox commentator, Andrew Napolitano, stated on live television that Obama had deployed the services of #Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, an agency known as the GCHQ, to observe and spy on Trump.
The GCHQ denied the #allegations made on Thursday in an atypical statement made by the agency that called the allegations nonsense and "utterly ridiculous."
A transatlantic train wreck
On Friday morning, the whole affair had blown up into a #transatlantic political liability that many critics claimed highlighted Trump administration's inability to handle international diplomacy. “The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential cannot be overstated,” Susan Rice, ex-national security adviser to Obama, wrote on Twitter. “And from the PODIUM.”
Meanwhile, politicians and officials in Britain also #expressed outrage and sought apologies and renunciations from the Oval Office. And yet Trump doggedly continues to stick by his claim about Obama, even as overwhelming evidence, or lack of, points to his potentially grave error.