Transcript for Former DNI Clapper: Comey firing a 'victory on the scoreboard for' Russians
We're join bid James clapper, the former director of national intelligence. As you know, the president and his associates and the vice president have on several occasions cited you in their talking point that there is no collusion wit the Russians. I want to show first the vice president then the president. The facts that are in public today are very clear. The former director of national intelligence has said there is no evidence of collusion. You were convinced you did nothing. I'm not convinced. Clapper is convinced. The other people are convinced. Everybody's convinced. They say there's though collusion. So get it out of the white house. They're all saying there is no collusion. Now you did say back in your original testimony that you hadn't seen evidence of collusion. Tell us exactly what you think right now and your response to the president and the vice president. First, George, thanks for having me. I need to make clear I think to start with what the relationship that I had with the FBI with respect to counterintelligence investigations. The FBI is unique in that it straddled boast law enforcement and counterintelligence. At the time we did our intelligence community assessment, which we published publicly on the 6th of January, there was no evidence of collusion included in that report. That's not to say there wasn't evidence. There could have been. Might be. I don't know. In the investigation. I did not know there was a formal investigation or they were addressing potential political collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians sflp that's not the kind of thing the FBI would tell the director of national intelligence? Not necessarily. Counterintelligence investigations, particularly if they're going to potentially implicate criminal activity, I -- and I left it to the judgment of both director Comey and before him, director muller, to decide whether, when, and what to tell me about counterintelligence investigations. That was a practice followed for the 6 1/2 years I was dni. Out of deference to the sensitivity of these reports and because they invariably involve U.S. Persons. What is the statement you can make about what you know about any possible collusion between president trump, his associates, and the Russians during the campaign? Well, my -- my access insight is ages off since officially, you know, that ended on January 20th. At the time I left office, I had no -- I had no evidence available to me that -- there was collusion. But that's not necessarily exculpatory since I did not know the state of the investigation nor the content, what had been turned up in it. You worked very closely with former FBI director James Comey for many years. You have seen a lot of different reports. Saw the statement from the president. He says direct ek Comey cleared him on three occasions. Saying he wasn't under investigation. We have reports that perhaps that the president asked him to make a loyalty pledge during their dinner in January. Was it appropriate for the FBI director to go to dinner with the president like that? Well, I know -- I happen to have been at the Hoover building for another event on January 27th. And I spoke briefly with director Comey. About the dinner. He conveyed to me he had been invited. And he was, this is my characterization, uneasy with it. Simply because of the optic or the appearance of potentially compromising his Independence and that of the bureau. But, I think, as a professional courtesy, when the president asks you to dinner, you go. I do not know, I have no direct insight into what was discussed during that dinner. You have no idea. Do you believe that James Comey would make a pledge of loyalty to the president? I would find that pro foundly out of character fort I know of Jim Comey and his integrity. I would find that very surprising. We heard this week from CIA director Mike Pompeo and Dan Coates, the cyber activity is the foremost threat from Russia. Doou agree? I do. The two most capable nation state adversariries in the cyber domain are Russia and China. I do think Russia poses a huge threat in the way they have used the cyber domain. That, to me, is the big issue here. Is Russian interference. In our political process. In our election process. That, that is a -- egregious act by them. They'll continue to do that. I think more aggressively than they have in the past. And I think it's something Americans all American citizens need to be aware of. And if there's ever been a clarion call for vigilance and action here to thwart this, this sit. Have they succeeded in the basic goal of undermining public faith in the U.S. Democratic process and how have the president's actions this week impacted that? They have certainly, their first objective before -- without respect to their stance on either candidate, but their first objective was to sow doubt, and discord in the country. The Russians have to be celebrating what they have accomplished with minimal resources. And what's unfolded now, here, the leader of the -- the lead toichb vest gags, about potential collusion between Russia and and the trump campaign has been removed. So -- the Russians have to consider this as a -- you know, another victory on the scoreboard for them. Finally, sir, we have all been reading about this massive cyberattack over the weekend. The ransomware cyberattack. 200,000 people. Is this just the beginning? That's the concern when Monday, when everyone returns to the office, that this -- ransomware attack will be even larger. Um -- we -- senator McCain held a hearing last Thursday on this very issue. And, I -- I think during the course of that, mentioned, ransomware as something we're going to see more and more of. This is a very serious serious problem. And I think it will grow. Mr. Clapper, thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for having me,
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