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Clapper on 2016 Election Scandal: We Did 'What We Were Told To Do by The President,' Obama

By Michael W. Chapman | October 8, 2019 | 6:35pm EDT
(Getty Images)

As the U.S. attorney general and a federal prosecutor in Connecticut investigate the origins of the Russia-collusion scandal and federal spying on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, former Obama administration National Intelligence Director James Clapper has disclosed that he was concerned about the Russians at the time, and that he does not think it is fair to now be investigated for having done "what we were told to do by the president."

On the Oct. 7 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Jim Sciutto asked Clapper, "As you know, the president has members of this government, you have the Attorney General [William Barr] traveling the world now meeting with U.S. intelligence partners trying to find out, in his view, whether they participated in some sort of Obama administration-led effort to undermine President Trump in the last election here. You also know that John Durham who is a prosecutor here, a senior Justice Department official, he’s pursuing his own investigations on the origins of that probe. 

"Are you concerned that Barr’s or Durham’s investigation will find wrongdoing and seek to punish former intelligence officials?"

Clapper, a strong critic of Trump, replied, "Well, I uh, I don’t know. I, I don’t think there was any wrongdoing. I think at the time all of us were trying to navigate a very, very difficult, politically fraught, highly charged situation. I know, for my part, my main concern was the Russians, and the threat posed by the Russians to our very political fabric. 

"The message I’m getting from all this is apparently what we were supposed to have done was to ignore the Russian interference, ignore the Russian meddling and the threat that it poses to us, and oh, by the way, blown off what the then commander-in-chief, President Obama, told us to do, which was to assemble all the reporting that we could, that we had available to us -- and put it in one report that the president could pass on to the Congress and to the next administration. And while we’re at it, declassify as much as we possibly could to make it public, and that’s what we did." (Emphasis added.)

Sciutto: "One issue I’m -- (crosstalk)."

Clapper: "It’s kind of disconcerting now to be investigated for, you know, having done our duty and done what we were told to do by the president. (Emphasis added.)

As has been reported by numerous media, FBI officials in the Obama administration obtained FISA warrants to spy on certain members of the Trump campaign in 2016.

Also, a trigger in the FBI's efforts (and perhaps other intelligence agencies) was a dossier compiled by a former British MI6 agent, Christopher Steele. He had been hired by Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump allegedly from Russian sources. Fusion GPS was funded for this work by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.  (Steele was also paid directly by the FBI for his investigative work.)

(YouTube)

The dossier alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. But as the Mueller Report documented, there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

The FBI spied on the Trump campaign, in part, based on an unsubstantiated dossier -- filled with salacious claims about Trump -- that was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. 

In a July 30, 2018 tweet, President Trump wrote, "So we now find out that it was indeed the unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly & falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!"

Ex-FBI Director James Comey, left, and ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. (Getty Images)

 

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