Trump’s remark Thursday was about a Politico report that Israel was likely behind the placement of devices in the vicinity of the White House that can capture cellphone calls.
“I don’t believe that. No, I don’t believe that the Israelis are spying on us,” Trump said from the South Lawn of the White House before heading to a Republican retreat in Baltimore, Fox News reported. “I find that hard to believe.”
Politico in an article published online Thursday cited three unnamed former senior officials with “knowledge of the matter.”
A senior U.S. official denied the report, telling the Los Angeles Times it was “completely false. Absolutely false.”
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vigorously denied the report. Israel has pledged since the 1986 capture of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard not to spy on the United States, although since then there have been multiple instances of the countries accusing the other of spying.
Amos Yadlin, the former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, reportedly called it “fake news spiced with anti-Semitism,” stating that Israel bans spying on the U.S.