CNN contributor and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said President Trump is sending the message that it would have been better if the intelligence community did not investigate the threat of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
From Tuesday's edition of 'CNN Tonight' with host Don Lemon:
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We learned that President Trump pressed Australia's Prime Minister during a recent phone call to help A.G. William Barr re- investigate the origins of the Russia probe. The Washington Post is reporting that Barr is doing the same thing with Italian and British officials. He's trying to change the facts to favor the conspiracy theory that Russia didn't try to help him. Is that what it sounds like to you?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, yes, it does. If just shows the incredible lengths that this administration is going to try to discredit the Russian meddling, the Russian interference. Rather than try to protect us against it, we're trying to discredit those who reported it.
And I'll tell you, Don, the takeaway for me, having been in a, you know, senior intelligence position in the last administration, is that it would have been much better had we not reported on this threat to our country, that is the Russian meddling, and I guess what we were supposed to have done is blown off the direction that the then- commander in chief, President Obama, gave us to put together all the reporting on this and produce a highly classified version and then declassify as much as we possibly could and make it public, which we did.
Well, apparently the message I'm getting from all this is, we shouldn't have done that. With respect to this very unorthodox and, as far as I know, unprecedented engagement by the Attorney General himself with foreign countries, what I think one of the offshoots, one of the results of this is going to be a chilling effect on our foreign intelligence allies who, in this case, provided in good faith what they thought was information that bore on our national security. And now they're being investigated as well as everybody here in the United States who is involved with it.