WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama was irked and exasperated in response to his successor’s wiretapping accusation, sources close to the former president tell CNN, though these sources say Obama’s reaction stopped short of outright fury.
Obama and his aides responded with disbelief when they learned of President Donald Trump’s Saturday morning tweets laying out the charges. Later in the day, an Obama spokesman said “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”
The sources provided CNN with slightly different insight into Obama’s demeanor than others who told The Wall Street Journal that Obama was “livid.”
Obama’s loyal army of supporters have been far more active in voicing their dissatisfaction with Trump. On social media and television, former aides have been aggressively pushing back on Trump in the first weeks of his presidency.
Presidents Trump and Obama have not spoken since Inauguration Day, when Obama welcomed Trump for coffee in the White House and accompanied him to the US Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.
The two men had developed what Trump termed a “warm” relationship in the run-up to Trump’s inauguration, fostered by an in-person meeting in the Oval Office and several phone conversations.
But people close to both men acknowledge that the bitterness of the presidential campaign, paired with Trump’s longstanding antagonism toward Obama regarding his birth certificate, would make a close relationship improbable.
On the weekend that Trump levied his explosive charges, Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, were spotted at the National Gallery of Art in Washington on a private tour of artist Theaster Gates’ new exhibition. The President was all smiles when he departed the museum, dressed casually and carrying a bag from the gallery’s gift shop.
Asked Monday whether Trump’s claims would damage the relationship between the 44th and 45th presidents, White House press secretary Sean Spicer downplayed any tensions.
“I think that they’ll be just fine,” Spicer said.
CNN’s Kate Bennett contributed to this report.