WASHINGTON — In the latest verbal acrobatics over President Trump’s allegation that President Barack Obama spied on him during the 2016 campaign, the White House spokesman said on Tuesday that he was confident Mr. Trump’s claim would eventually be found to be true.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said he was “very confident” that the Justice Department would submit data to the House Intelligence Committee after it missed a Monday deadline to produce evidence of Mr. Trump’s claim. The House committee is investigating Russian interference in the presidential election.
Mr. Trump is “extremely confident” that there will be evidence to support his accusation, Mr. Spicer said on Tuesday. “There is significant reporting about surveillance techniques that have existed throughout the 2016 election. I’ll leave it to them to issue their report, but I think he feels very confident that what will ultimately come of this will vindicate him.”
Mr. Spicer also said that Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump who suggested in an interview that the surveillance could have included a microwave oven, made the comment as a joke. “The microwave is not a sound way of surveilling someone, and I think that has been cleaned up,” Mr. Spicer said. “It was made in jest, so I think we can put that to rest.”
Ms. Conway said on Monday that she had not been referring to Mr. Obama’s surveillance against Mr. Trump when she mentioned a microwave, although she made the remark in response to a question about that topic.
Mr. Spicer’s comments on Tuesday were the latest in a series of shifting explanations and deflections as Mr. Trump’s inner circle has tried to adhere to his extraordinary Twitter posts two weekends ago about his predecessor. After Mr. Trump posted statements claiming that Mr. Obama had tapped Mr. Trump’s phones at Trump Tower, White House officials said they had referred the matter to the House and Senate intelligence panels and would have no further comment until those findings were complete.
But that posture has been difficult to maintain in the face of mounting questions from lawmakers and others about what Mr. Trump meant and where he got his information, with calls for him to publicly explain himself.
On Monday, Mr. Spicer said that the president had not meant to imply that Mr. Obama had tapped his telephone, but that he was referring in general to surveillance that had been well documented, including articles by The New York Times, during the presidential race.
But The Times did not report that Mr. Trump was the target of any surveillance, even though that notion has gained currency on right-wing websites, including some that traffic in conspiracy theories.
Mr. Spicer’s assertion on Tuesday that the allegation would ultimately be proved correct suggested either that the president believes there was enough evidence for himself to be implicated in a serious crime or as an agent of a foreign power, or that the Obama administration had flouted the law to spy on him.
Asked directly whether Mr. Trump believed that microwave ovens or televisions had been used to spy on him, Mr. Spicer said: “I would just say that the president has tweeted about this. He’s pretty clear that he believes that there was surveillance that was conducted during the 2016 election.”