James Clapper on Trump's spy accusations: He distorted my words

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday that President Donald Trump had distorted his w...

Posted: May 24, 2018 9:35 AM
Updated: May 24, 2018 9:35 AM

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday that President Donald Trump had distorted his words when alleging the intelligence community "spied" on his campaign.

The President tweeted Wednesday morning, "'Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign' No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!"

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead," Clapper responded to Trump's accusations: "That is a distortion of what I said, in fact I had an aversion to the use of the term."

When asked outright if the intelligence community spied on Trump and his campaign, Clapper said, "No, we did not."

Clapper continued to address the recent barrage of both tweets and oral attacks from the President and his allies by reiterating that his work as director of national intelligence related to Trump and his campaign was about trying to determine what the Russians were doing to interfere with American elections.

As a private citizen, Clapper has taken a more direct tone on how Russian interference related to the 2016 presidential election. He writes in his new book that "of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point."

Asked why he avoided making conclusions about Russians having a direct impact on the outcome of the election before, Clapper says he is now speaking both with more information but also as a private individual.

"Since becoming a private citizen, knowing what I know they did, the variety of means Russians used, millions and millions of voters they got to ... to me it stretches logic not to think they didn't help swing the election ... the full magnitude of what they did, in my mind, in my opinion, they did affect the election."

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