James Clapper: Trump Is Encouraging Russians To Interfere In 2020 Election


Wednesday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reacted to President Donald Trump telling ABC News that he would consider taking dirt from a foreign government about a political rival.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Director Clapper, is this just the way it's done?

FMR. DNI JAMES CLAPPER: It certainly isn't, Anderson. I've run out of adjectives to react or describe a reaction to this. Incredible, amazing, stunning, and disturbing that the president would advocate the use of accepting information provided by a foreign country, notably, a foreign adversary and in doing so completely overlooking the fact that this could well be, probably would be disinformation, in other words, completely phony, and to endorse that and then in doing so endorse undercut the FBI and its director is just incredible and I can't get over the duplicity of it.

Here is the criticism about the infamous dossier and, you know, you can't use it because it's non-valid. You can't accept it and in this case, well, you know, it's okay and we're looking into the future here and we're not talking about the past. He made great points about that.

COOPER: I'm reminded of when candidate Trump said Russia if you're out there, and the Hillary Clinton 30,000 e-mails, if you're listening Russia, and we know from the Mueller report that hours later, you know, hackers, Russian hackers made attempts. It's essentially kind of echoing that again. It's basically a clarion call, saying if a country came to me again I'd listen to it.

CLAPPER: The Russians are doing -- they're going to repeat what they did in 2016. They're going to repeat it in 2020 and now what President Trump has done is encouraging them to do so. Again, it's just -- it's -- it's stunning.

COOPER: Yeah. Again, you know, people just kind of roll their eye this point and it bears repeating this is not normal behavior of a president. I'm not even sure he -- I'm not sure if he understands or doesn't care what the ramifications of this are, but if any other president had said anything resembling this, you know, Republicans in Congress would have understandably, you know, called him a traitor.

CLAPPER: Anderson, can you imagine if Barack Obama, if he were still president somehow said something like that? The Republicans would be going nuts over this. It's, you know, it's -- hard to describe.

COOPER: The president saying that the FBI director is wrong on this, and Chris Wray is the man he appointed. Again, if you're Christopher Wray, how do you react to this tonight? Because again, this goes against, he's saying don't -- he said maybe I would -- you know, I'd get the information and then maybe call the FBI. In other parts of this interview, he talks about how he's never called the FBI for anything, maybe he's kicked people out of his office, but that he would never pick up the phone and call the FBI.

CLAPPER: I'm not surprised that he never called the FBI. That's not a startling revelation. Yeah. He just said flat out Chris Wray is wrong, and Chris Wray is not wrong. There are legal implications here and if you get information provided by a foreign nation-state, particularly if it's coming from the likes of an adversary like China and Russia, to me, first duty is call the FBI.

COOPER: The -- if the -- if a foreign government reached out to an American citizen and someone said they were from Chinese intelligence or a Chinese think tank and reached out to an American citizen, you know, asking for documents or willing to give some documents for, you know, some sort of a contact, if that American citizen didn't contact the FBI they could get in trouble.

CLAPPER: Well, they could. I mean, depending on the circumstance that could easily happen, yeah.

COOPER: What do you think this sends? What message does this send to foreign governments, do you think, like Russia? I mean, we talked about this a little bit, but essentially you really believe this sends a message to them that go ahead, the gates are open for 2020 and I'm open for business on this.

CLAPPER: Oh, exactly. This simply encourages them to do something they're going to do anyway and by the way, and the revelations and level of detail in the Mueller report which the Russians clearly had already gone to school on will be harder to detect what they're doing.

COOPER: And now they have the president essentially encouraging the Russians to continue to do what they did in 2016.

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