Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper believes the possibility still remains there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the U.S. presidential election. Clapper has testified he was not aware of solid evidence that links the two, but also said his lack of evidence does not give closure to the inquiry.
Interestingly, Clapper made a distinction between intelligence that meets a certain “threshold” and intelligence that does not.
“There was no evidence that rose to that level, at that time, that found its way in to the intelligence community assessment, which we had pretty high confidence in,” Clapper said. “That’s not to say there wasn’t evidence, but not that met that threshold.”
The former DNI also revealed that he was not aware of then-FBI Director James Comey’s investigation into the matter until Comey announced the probe at a House committee hearing. Clapper’s comments on the matter come after President Trump used his testimony to question the validity of a continued Russia investigation.
When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
While being interviewed on MSNBC by Andrea Mitchell Friday, Clapper was asked if he thought the investigation was a “witch hunt”, as Trump claimed.
“I don’t believe it is,” he responded. “But that’s kind of irrelevant. I think what needs to happen here is to clear this cloud, a cloud that’s hanging over the administration, over the president, over the White House. It would be in everyone’s best interest to get to the bottom of this, and for the country. Otherwise this is going to continue to linger as a dark cloud, in my opinion, over this administration.”
The dark cloud Clapper is describing has enveloped White House staffers as Trump’s mood has reportedly darkened in the wake of bipartisan aghast at Comey’s firing.
According to anonymous staffers, Trump has grown suspicious of senior aides and has even interviewed chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Renice Priebus after internal deliberations were leaked to the press.
As the White House continues to leak about the leaks, clearly Trump has been unsuccessful thus far. As the Russia investigation continues, Trump’s staffers will likely continue to bear the brunt of his displeasure.
[CNN] [AP] [Photo courtesy Win McNamee/Getty Images via ProPublica]