Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has emerged as a critic of President Donald Trump’s approach to navigating the deep state landmines left for him by the outgoing Obama administration, but even he cannot say with a straight face that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.
During a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Clapper told host Jake Tapper attempted to paint his earlier statements regarding a lack of evidence to bolster the Russia narrative as inconclusive.
“I deferred to the FBI director,” he said, “So my statement was premised on, first, the context of our intelligence community assessment… There was no reporting in that intelligence community assessment about political collusion.”
Back in March, Clapper appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was asked whether he saw any evidence of “improper contacts” between the Trump team and Russia.
“We did not include evidence in our report – and I say our, that’s NSA, FBI, and CIA with my office – the director of national intelligence that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that including in our report,” he replied, later noting that he did not know of any such evidence existing.
On Sunday, Clapper clarified that the previous statement had been made prior to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress about the investigation.
“I can’t refute it and I can’t confirm it,” he said.
While multiple sources within the intelligence community have confirmed several investigations into the Trump campaign vis-à-vis Russian interference, all of them have turned up dry. On March 16, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell unequivocally stated: “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire – at all.”