Clapper: "No Direct Evidence Of Political Collusion Between The Trump Campaign And The Russians"

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In an interview Tuesday morning, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN host Chris Cuomo that there is no director evidence of political collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Following Clapper confirming "no direct evidence of political collusion," Cuomo demanded a clarification, "because people use you and those words as an example of this premise, which is there's nothing there."

Watch the full interview below the transcript, via CNN:

CUOMO: All right. So the idea that, hey, look, the Democrats are just front-running this issue about Russian interference to explain what happened in the election. You're saying, no, there are legitimate questions.

So from the -- if you're an American citizen, what do you want to know from the fruit of this investigation? What needs to come out of it?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the -- what I indicated before is what was the intent of this dialogue? What was the content of the discussions? And we didn't know that, or at least I didn't, when I left the government on the 20th of January. And so as long as these questions linger, and as long as they hang over us like this, this -- this is going to be a terrible distraction to getting anything done.

And so the sooner there is clarity about this and transparency, the better for the country. For this administration, for both parties and for the country at large.

CUOMO: All right. Now, you're talking about the second head of this beast, which is the questions that go to communications and any potential collaboration or conclusion -- collusion with members of the Trump administration.

The president, you know his position on this. And the reflection of that in the citizenry is this. Where's the proof? It's all unnamed sources; it's all leaks. Nothing has come out that shows any degree of essential wrongdoing or, certainly, criminality by anyone involved in the campaign, so there must be nothing there.

CLAPPER: Well, I don't -- I wouldn't go so far as to say that. But I also have to say that, with specific respect to the issue of collusion, as I've said before -- I've testified to this effect -- I saw no direct evidence of political collusion between the campaign and -- the Trump campaign and the Russians.

CUOMO: Now clarify that point.

CLAPPER: That's not to say -- that's not to say there wasn't any, but I just didn't see evidence of it before I left.

CUOMO: Clarify that, because people use you and those words as an example of this premise, which is there's nothing there. My understanding was that you were saying that you weren't aware of what evidence there was on that issue because you weren't running that part of the investigation, so give us a clear statement on it. What do you mean when you say you didn't see anything?

CLAPPER: First, I need to explain the very unique position that the Federal Bureau of Investigation occupies, in that they straddle -- the FBI straddles both intelligence and law enforcement. And it was always my practice during the six and one-half years that I was the DNI that I deferred to the judgment of the director of the FBI, either Director Mueller or Director Comey, as to when -- or whether, when, and what to tell me about a counterintelligence investigation potentially involving U.S. persons.

We're all very sensitive and deferential to U.S. persons and protections of civil liberties and privacy, and just given the inherent sensitivity and security of counterintelligence investigations, I wouldn't necessarily have known about that. But to say that my statement that was a flat denial of any collusion, that's not correct. The correct statement is I wasn't aware of that. That's not to say there might not have been or that there wasn't evidence of it, but I couldn't say that at the time I left the government on the 20th of January.

CUOMO: So, to those who say look, there'd be proof out there -- it would be out there by now -- everything's leaking. If there was something there to know that was at all meaningful, let alone criminal, we would have an indication of that by now.

CLAPPER: Well, I think there's enough doubt that has been cast on this that it's very important that the investigations, either in the Congress and especially that of special counsel Bob Mueller, play out and to clear this up for once and for all.


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