Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned on CNN Tuesday morning that President Trump’s call to “do an investigation of the investigators” with regard to the Russia probe risks missing the point: “We’re kind of losing sight of what was the cause of all this, the predicate for all this was the Russians and the Russian engagement.”
“I wish people would pay more attention to volume one of the Mueller report, the exhaustive detail about what the Russians did,” he said. “We’re losing sight of that.”
JOHN BERMAN, CNN: So, one development over the last 12 hours is we learned that the U.S. attorney general, William Barr, has appointed the U.S. attorney from Connecticut to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation. You, of course, were the director of National Intelligence at the beginning of the investigation. Do you think this kind of investigation is warranted?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I guess you’re going to have to stay on the line and take a number to do an investigation of the investigators. There’s already one substantial investigation, which as I understand is nearing completion, being conducted, led by the Department of Justice inspector general. So if it were me, I’d wait for the outcome of that to determine if there need to be yet more investigations. But now we’re starting other investigations before that one is completed.
And, John, a point I have to make here is, we’re kind of losing sight of what was the cause of all this, the predicate for all this, was the Russians and the Russian engagement. Now we know, apparently dozens of cases where Russian operatives, some of whom were known to be of intelligence connections, were trying to engage with the Trump campaign. That’s what the concern was and was a predicate for any of these — this investigation.
BERMAN: The Russians were attacking the U.S. election system.
CLAPPER: Exactly. And on a — on a rather massive scale, through social media, through RT. So — and we saw — I say we as part of the prior administration — all these encounters between members of the Trump camp and — and the Russians. And the focus was, what is going on here with the Russians? I mean the message I almost take away from this is, well, we should have ignored that. Well, that was a profound threat and still is to our electoral system. And I wish people would pay more attention to volume one of the Mueller report, the exhaustive detail about what the Russians did. And we’re losing sight of that.