“I've seen no indication that that's true,” Rep. Tom Cole told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And so it's not a charge I would have ever made. And frankly, unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think the president, you know, President Obama is owed an apology in that regard.

“If he didn't do it we shouldn’t be reckless in accusations that he did,” the Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma added.

The remarks are the harshest rejection yet of Trump's claim that Obama had carried out surveillance on his self-named tower in Manhattan.

The leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees said earlier this week that they have seen no evidence to support Trump's claim.

The White House has sought to walk back Trump's rhetoric, telling reporters that the president referred to broader surveillance.

To be clear, when Trump tweeted on March 4 he accused former President Barack Obama of having his "wires tapped" at Trump Tower.

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" he said in another tweet that day, misspelling "tap".

Trump told Fox News on Wednesday that when he said "wires tapped" he meant "surveillance and many other things".

The administration has until March 20 to present any evidence to substantiate Trump's claim. FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on that date.

Anadolu Agency