Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday hit back at President Trump for claiming that Clapper admitted that the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign.
Clapper told Axios that Trump’s most recent tweet making the allegation shows that Trump “deliberately spun” his comments.
The former intelligence chief said the FBI had sought to determine what Russian figures were doing during the 2016 election, but did not spy on the Trump campaign.
“I mean this is George Orwell — up is down, black is white, peace is war. That’s exactly what I didn’t say,” Clapper told Axios on Thursday.
“I took aversion to the word ‘spy.’ It was the most benign version of information gathering. The important thing is the whole reason the FBI was doing this was concern over what the Russians were doing to infiltrate the campaign, not spying on the campaign,”
“Of course, he turned that completely upside-down in his tweet, as he is wont to do,” Clapper added.
Trump had tweeted earlier Thursday that Clapper had “admitted” to the FBI “spying” on his campaign.
Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign. Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal. Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE – a terrible thing!
Trump and his allies have pushed for more details about an FBI source who reportedly met with three advisers to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
“They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence — which is what they do,” Clapper said of the FBI’s efforts during an appearance Wednesday on ABC’s “The View.”
The president has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the Obama administration embedded a “spy” in his campaign to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election. Trump demanded over the weekend that the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the matter.
The DOJ reached an agreement with the president on Monday to allow the department’s inspector general to investigate allegations of FBI wrongdoing in the Russia probe.