Clapper told Mitchell it's a "when are you going to stop beating your wife" kind of question.
"So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least most untruthful manner, by saying, 'No,'" he told Mitchell.
That may explain why Wyden has used the incident to call for additional hearings and "straight answers" from intelligence officials about the program.
"So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper's office a day in advance," Wyden said in a statement Tuesday. "After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer. "
But when asked directly by reporters Tuesday whether he believes Clapper lied, he declined to accuse the national intelligence director of intentionally misleading Congress.
That hasn't, however, stopped others from using the "L" word.
Rep. Jason Amash, R-Mich., today said frankly that Clapper lied to Congress and should resign.
"It now appears clear that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath to Congress and the American people," Amash wrote in a Facebook post. "Members of Congress can't make informed decisions on intelligence issues when the head of the intelligence community willfully makes false statements."
"Perjury is a serious crime. Mr. Clapper should resign immediately."