Clapper ‘Disappointed’ That AG William Barr Says Obama Administration Spied on Trump Campaign

By Melanie Arter | April 11, 2019 | 12:36 PM EDT

Attorney General William Barr (Screenshot)

( - Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who served under the Obama administration, told CNN Wednesday that it is “both stunning and scary” that Barr would tell Congress that the Trump campaign was spied on by the government.

“I thought it was both stunning and scary,” said Clapper. “I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing. The term ‘spying’ has all kinds of negative connotations and I have to believe he chose that he chose that term deliberately.”


As previously reported, Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee at a hearing on the DOJ’s 2020 budget proposal on Wednesday that “spying did occur.”

“Yes, I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that. I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane, and I want to make sure that happened,” Barr said.


Clapper said if Barr had concerns, he could have asked the DOJ’s inspector general for a briefing on the preliminary findings of his investigation.

Instead of airing his concerns publicly, Clapper said it would have been “more appropriate” for the attorney general to “defer to that investigation rather than postulating with apparently no evidence.”

“He just has a feeling that there was spying against the campaign,” Clapper said.

“We’re losing sight here of what started all this, and that was the Russian meddling, the Russian interference in our election process, and the Russians pose a profound threat to this country, and based on the success that they enjoyed as a result of their meddling in the 2016 election, they’re going to continue that, and we’re not focusing on that,” he said.


“We’re focusing on this circus about you know whether or not somebody was spying on the campaign, which is, I think, a gross misstatement.” Clapper added.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Eric Holder, who also served the Obama administration, said Wednesday that Barr should have used the term “investigating” instead.

“When there is a predicate, a legitimate basis, it’s called ‘investigating’ not ‘spying’. I am confident that the people at DOJ/FBI conducted themselves in an appropriate way. No evidence to suggest otherwise,” Holder tweeted.


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