James Clapper defends his Trump-Russia commentary on CNN: 'I've tried to be factual and temperate-minded'
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who had questioned President Trump's judgment multiple times during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, tried defending his commentary on Monday after the release of the findings from the Mueller report.
On the White House lawn, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had challenged Congress to call Obama administration officials to testify, including Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey, who she claimed “perpetuated this absurd lie” that President Trump was a “foreign agent” for Russia.
Clapper, a CNN national security analyst, responded by suggesting that Sanders was “confusing” collusion with Russian interference, telling Anderson Cooper that he was “tasked” by then-President Obama to put together the reports on Russian interference in the 2016 election. He insisted that he had been “consistent” shortly following Trump’s inauguration that “we didn’t have enough evidence” at the time and that the Mueller probe would “resolve it once and for all.”
“Do you regret anything you have said in terms of raising questions about the president’s behavior or anything the president has done or said?” Cooper asked.
“No, I don’t,” Clapper answered. “I have my concerns as do others and I have tried to be factual and temperate-minded about it but I do have my concerns and no, I don’t have any regrets.”
In December 2017, Clapper told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin “knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with” Trump.
The previous summer, after Trump held a raucous rally in Phoenix, Clapper reacted: “I really question his ability to be, his fitness to be in this office and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it. maybe he is looking for a way out.”
Earlier Monday, Brennan walked back his previous commentary to MSNBC viewers claiming more indictments were coming that would prove collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as obstruction of justice committed by the president.
“I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was,” Brennan said.