WASHINGTON - In an interview Sunday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied that he directed, or had any knowledge of, any Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court-authorized wiretap on President Donald Trump or Trump Tower during his candidacy or once he’d won the election and become president-elect.
Clapper, while qualifying his answer with “obviously, I can’t speak officially anymore,” told NBC's "Meet the Press" that “as part of the national security apparatus I oversaw, there was no such wiretap mounted against the president-elect at the time, or the president as a candidate or against his campaign.”
He also said he could not speak for the efforts of other entities in the government who were empowered to seek such warrants. But Clapper then said he’d have knowledge of a warrant distributed via a FISA court order and denied that one existed. When host Chuck Todd asked if he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a FISA court order, Clapper said, “I can deny.”
To Todd’s claims that there was “a lot of smoke” regarding Russian ties, Clapper reminded him that the report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month found no direct evidence of collusion between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia. His office’s report did, however, cite significant Russian intervention to “undermine the Democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency” as well as a “clear preference for President-elect Trump.”
Clapper believes a transparent, independent investigation is the best way forward for everyone involved, including Trump. He told Todd, "It is in everyone’s interest to get to the bottom of this, it is such a distraction. ... I think it would be very healthy to clear the air on this subject. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest.”
Clapper went on to commend the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he lauded as a “truly bipartisan” effort. “At this point,” he said, “I do have confidence” in the investigation mounted by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Should that change, Clapper said, a special prosecutor should be appointed.