Clapper: Comey's "Mistake" Was "Trusting In The Procedures" For FISA Warrants | Video | RealClearPolitics

Clapper: Comey's "Mistake" Was "Trusting In The Procedures" For FISA Warrants


CNN contributor and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper praised former FBI Director James Comey for acknowledging he made a "mistake," saying "good on him." Comey, in an interview with 'FOX News Sunday' host Chris Wallace, said he was wrong to be "overconfident" in the "procedures" the bureau used for the past 20 years with respect to FISA applications. The FBI submitted a FISA warrant request in 2016 to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Clapper said the mistake was "trusting in the procedures" that the FBI uses to obtain FISA court authorizations. Clapper added he is not familiar with how the FBI writes warrants as the NSA has a different process. However, his former job made him chief of all branches of what makes up the intelligence community, including the FBI. Clapper, not laying the blame on Comey, said he was surprised that the "rigorous process" overseen by the DOJ and FISA court "didn't work as I had thought they were."

COMEY (on 'FOX News Sunday'): I was wrong. I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It's incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those. Because he's right. There was real sloppiness, 17 things that either should've been in the applications or at least discussed and characterized differently... It's important that a leader be accountable and transparent. If I were still director, I'd be saying exactly the same thing that Chris Wray is saying, which is we are going to get to the bottom of this. Because the most important question is, is it systemic? Are there problems in other cases?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Comey's comments come a week after the DOJ Inspector General found while the investigation was properly opened by the FBI, errors were made in how the FISA warrant applications were handled. Joining me now to discuss, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence. Director, thank you so much. What's your reaction to Comey's comments?

CLAPPER: Well, first, Jim did something that doesn't happen in this town very often where he admitted publicly to a mistake. So, good on him for that. I guess the mistake here is trusting in the procedures that I have always understood. I'm more familiar with the FISA authorization request that NSA does than the FBI's. But I've always been under the impression that this is a rigorous process and overseen by the Department of Justice and scrubbed pretty hard by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Somehow those procedures didn't work as I had thought they were.

So I think Jim had the same feeling. And I'm sure he is thinking about that as the director at the time. And it does worry me. I suspect this wasn't a one-time case. And that there are probably comparable systemic issues with other such requests and I'm also pretty confident that Director Wray stepped up pretty aggressively to make fixes.

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