US Congress angrily responds to Donald Trump's request to investigate Barack Obama wiretapping claims

Democrats sharply criticised the President's call while Republicans urged him to let the House and Senate intelligence committees do their jobs

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Members of the US Congress have responded angrily to President Donald Trump's request they investigate his unsubstantiated claim Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower to be wiretapped during the election.

Democrats sharply criticised the President's call for Congress to investigate his claim, which White House press secretary Sean Spicer said was based on "very troubling" reports "concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election".

Mr Spicer said the White House wants the congressional committees to "exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016".

Republicans urged Mr Trump to let the House and Senate intelligence committees do their jobs. 

Former director of national intelligence denies there was a 'wiretap' at Trump Tower

Key members of Congress said they would honour the president's request.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, said the panel "will follow the evidence where it leads, and we will continue to be guided by the intelligence and facts as we compile our findings." 

Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the committee "will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party's campaign officials or surrogates." 

Mr Trump's request carries some risk, particularly if the committees unearth damaging information about him or his associates.

Committee Democrats will have access to the information and could wield anything negative against the president.

Asking Congress to conduct a much broader investigation than originally envisioned also ensures the Russia issue will hang over the White House for months. 

The top House Democrat said it is "just ridiculous" for Mr Trump to claim Mr Obama would ever have ordered any wiretap of an American citizen. 

Representative Nancy Pelosi said "we don't do that" and she called the charge a "smear." 

Ms Pelosi told CNN's State of the Union that Mr Trump is following the playbook of making something up, having the media report it and then saying everybody is writing about it. 

The California Democrat said it was a "tool of an authoritarian" to always have people "talking about what you want them to be talking about." 

FBI director James Comey has reportedly asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Mr Trump's claim, because it falsely insinuates the FBI broke the law.

The Justice Department has yet to issue a formal statement.

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper flatly denied the existence of an order to bug Mr Trump.