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US Justice Department requests more time to gather evidence on wiretapping allegations

Lawmakers have denied the request, warning that they could subpoena the department for the evidence. President Donald Trump has made unsubstantiated allegations that his predecessor ordered targeted surveillance of him.

The US Justice Department (DOJ) on Monday asked for more time to gather evidence into unsubstantiated allegations that the former administration ordered Trump Tower to be wiretapped during Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

The federal law enforcement authority asked for "additional time to review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities and to determine what if any responsive documents may exist," said DOJ spokesman Sarah Isgur Flores.

Earlier this month, President Trump alleged in a series of tweets that former President Barack Obama had the real estate mogul's Manhattan home under surveillance.

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick guy)," Trump wrote in a tweet.

"I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to election," he said in a separate tweet.

However, the US president has failed to provide evidence of the allegations, prompting concerns from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday attempted to clarify Trump's remarks, saying he did not mean to suggest that Obama had tapped his home.

"The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities," Spicer said.

Watch video 00:46

Trump: Obama tapped my phone

Lawmaker's ultimatum

A spokesman for Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes said on Monday that if the DOJ failed to comply with their request for evidence into the allegations, then the House intelligence committee could resort to a subpoena.

"If the committee does not receive a response by then, the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go answered," said Nunes' spokesman Jack Langer.

Meanwhile, veteran Republican lawmaker John McCain on Sunday urged Trump's administration to provide evidence or withdraw the allegations.

"I think the president has one of two choices: either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve," McCain said. "If his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we've got a serious issue here, to say the least."

Under American legislation, the president is unable to order targeted surveillance. Trump has the ability to declassify any documents linked to the allegations, a demand that his critics have voiced repeatedly. Meanwhile, Obama - via a spokesman - has denied the allegations.

ls/bw (AP, AFP)

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