Clapper, who said he had an aversion to the word 'spying,' used it once again to describe the activity of the intel community with the Trump presidential campaign in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. He said it is a "distortion" that he said the campaign was spied on. On the spying done on behalf of the campaign, Clapper said what Trump should be "concerned" about is the potential of Russian infiltration.
"Did the intelligence community spy on President Trump and his campaign?" Tapper asked.
"We did not," Clapper answered. "That is a distortion of what I said. In fact, I had an aversion to the use of the term and thought I made that clear. And the important thing is here, what was this all about?"
"Well, what it was about was trying to determine what the Russians were doing, were they trying to gain access, infiltrate political campaign," he continued. It didn't matter which campaign. And had nothing to do with spying on the campaign and it was about the Russians which is what we should all be concerned about, to include Trump."
Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), also claimed that he did know about the spying contemporaneously and that the FBI was the sole actor. The FBI reports to the Attorney General and the DNI. Clapper served from 2010 to the end of the Obama administration.
"Which is the standard procedure. I mean, I never knew the identity of informants in the FBI, nor should I. And so, I'm sure this was -- and there is very strict rules and protocols for using informants in any circumstance, and especially one like this," Clapper said.
Tapper didn't press further.
TAPPER: And to be fair, whoever the confidential sources were and we know of one of them and I don't know if there were others, but they were trying to find out not just what the Russians were doing, but what any members of the Trump team might have been doing with the Russians too, right?
CLAPPER: Well, my understanding -- and again I should point out, Jake, that I did not know about this contemporaneously --
TAPPER: The FBI was doing this on its own.
TAPPER: They didn't tell you --
CLAPPER: Which is the standard procedure. I mean, I never knew the identity of informants in the FBI, nor should I. And so, I'm sure this was -- and there is very strict rules and protocols for using informants in any circumstance, and especially one like this.
And it appeared to me from what I read, now that unfortunately the individual has been exposed and some parts of the media, but this is a very benign thing that where he engaged directly with two or three people about -- and again trying to glean insight into what might the Russians be doing to gain access to the campaign.