A U.S. House of Representatives panel has asked the Justice Department for copies of documents which if they exist could shed light on President Donald Trump's allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped his election campaign.
The House Intelligence Committee asked the department in a letter for any request it may have made in 2016 relating to Trump or his associates to the secret court that supervises government electronic eavesdropping
If Trump's campaign or advisers were indeed being wiretapped in the United States, the most likely legal path for the Obama administration to do so would be to have the Justice Department ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, for permission to eavesdrop.
Trump accused predecessor Barack Obama on Saturday of wiretapping him during the late stages of the campaign, but offered no evidence for an allegation which an Obama spokesman said was "simply false".
The committee's letter, addressed to Dana Boente, the acting Deputy U.S. Attorney General, also asks for copies of any such orders actually issued by the court and any electronic surveillance warrants related to Trump or his associates issued last year by a federal judge or magistrate under an wideranging anti-crime law.
A copy of the letter, signed by the House committee's Republican chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, and ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, was seen by Reuters on Thursday. The letter has not been publicly released.
Nunes said on Tuesday he had seen no evidence to support Trump's wiretapping allegation.
Law enforcement sources have said that the FBI is pursuing a wideranging counter-intelligence investigation of alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russians, as well as two separate investigations into pre-election email hacking linked to Russia which mainly targeted Democratic political operatives.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Alistair Bell)