Former DNI Clapper: 'An Inquiry Done Fairly and Objectively Would Be Useful'

By Susan Jones | May 24, 2019 | 9:39am EDT
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper -- who held that job when the FBI launched its Trump-Russia probe -- says he's concerned that President Trump's declassification order "risks jeopardizing sources and methods."

But he also told CNN's Don Lemon Thursday night that he thinks an investigation into the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe could be "useful."

Clapper spoke shortly after President Trump announced that he is "directing the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election. The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information," Trump tweeted.

Clapper suggested Trump's order might be "a way to sort of focus attention away from not such a great week for him by let's investigate the investigators and this sort of thing, which certainly plays to his base. And by the way, Don, I think such an inquiry done fairly and objectively would be useful. I'd welcome it. In fact, I'd like to speak about it publicly if given the chance."

(For the record, Don Lemon responded: "I think that's the consensus from most people, as long as it's done fair and it's a thorough investigation, I think with no preconceived notions, I think people are fine with this investigation.")

Clapper said he worries about the "chilling effect" that declassification may have on future investigations, particularly as it concerns the FBI.

"Well, that could be concerning, because there's already been so much information declassified already that, particularly in the form of the Mueller report, and the previous indictments going back to our original intelligence community assessment that we did in January of '17.

"So I wonder what else is going to be declassified that risks jeopardizing sources and methods. I just -- I don't know."

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