Leaks, Assures Trump of Loyalty
James Clapper says the intelligence community 'stands
ready to serve his administration.'
By Nahal Toosi
January 12, 2017 "Information
The outgoing U.S. director of national intelligence has
extended an olive branch of sorts to Donald Trump —
denouncing media leaks, casting skepticism on a report
that Russia has damaging material on the
president-elect, and assuring Trump that America's spies
stand ready to serve him.
In an unusual statement, James Clapper said he had
spoken Wednesday evening with Trump, five days after the
spy chief and some of his counterparts met with the
incoming president to discuss U.S. intelligence
assessments that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016
election, possibly to help him win.
The assessment has badly aggravated existing tensions
between the intelligence community and Trump.
On Tuesday, CNN, BuzzFeed and other media outlets
reported that, during Friday’s briefing, the
intelligence officials told Trump about an
unsubstantiated private report that detailed how
Russia's government allegedly had salacious information
about him. In addition, BuzzFeed published the apparent
dossier, which Trump has since denounced as “fake news.”
"I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have
been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that
they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our
national security," Clapper said of the information that
has come out since last week's intelligence briefing.
Clapper’s statement represented a dramatic turn of
events only 24 hours after initial leaks about the
intelligence leaders having told Trump of the dossier.
And while Clapper’s statement indirectly confirmed the
media reports of the briefing, it also could be viewed
as a concession of sorts from an intelligence community
that has come under repeated, direct fire from the
Trump had compared the leak from his briefing to “Nazi
Germany” on Twitter on Wednesday morning, writing,
“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this
fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at
me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
In a news conference, also held Wednesday, Trump
defended the comparison and elaborated further, saying,
“A thing like that should have never been written, it
should never have been had, and it certainly should
never have been released.”
Clapper, however, said he did not believe the leaks to
the press came from the intelligence community. At the
same time, he indicated that the intelligence community
decided to share the material with Trump because its
mere existence was important for the incoming president
to know about.
As far as the "private security company document,"
Clapper said, "I emphasized that this document is not a
U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not
believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has
not made any judgment that the information in this
document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any
way for our conclusions."
"Part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers
are provided with the fullest possible picture of any
matters that might affect national security," Clapper
Clapper's statement comes amid extraordinary strains
between the spy world and Trump, who takes office next
week. The president-elect has been resistant to U.S.
intelligence assessments that Russia intervened in the
election, although during a press conference Wednesday
morning Trump admitted that Moscow likely did do some
Steven Hall, a former head of Russian operations at the
CIA, said Clapper’s statement didn’t appear to be an
all-out apology, but that it was possible the spy chief
wants to try to patch up the tensions between Trump and
the intelligence world before he himself steps down in
just a few days.
“He just might very well be like, wow, this really has
kind of gotten out of control,” said Hall, who described
Clapper as an “old-school, principled” kind of guy.
“This might be his parting attempt to say, look at the
very least after more than a 50-year career in
intelligence, I don’t want this to be what I’m
Trump has said the U.S. should cooperate more with
Russian President Vladimir Putin, going against the
stance of many of his fellow Republicans, not to mention
Democrats, as well as many intelligence experts.
There is a sense among some in the intelligence
community that Trump’s resistance to their assessments
about Russia’s election interference is largely due to
his sensitivity about how it could undermine his
legitimacy as president, not because he doesn’t believe
in the overall merits of the U.S. spy apparatus.
Regardless, the increasingly bitter clash between Trump
and the intelligence world has threatened to cast a dark
cloud over the start of his presidency, which already
faces skepticism from ethics experts and national
security leaders who worry that Trump has too many
conflicts of interest and is too erratic for the Oval
But according to Clapper, during their conversation
Wednesday, the president-elect "again affirmed his
appreciation for all the men and women serving in the
Intelligence Community, and I assured him that the IC
stands ready to serve his administration and the
Attorney General Loretta Lynch suggested earlier
Wednesday that by sharing the information with Trump,
the intelligence community was simply trying to put him
on notice of what the Russians were up to.
Lynch declined to discuss any specifics, but said U.S.
authorities often give such warnings. “I can tell you
that information is conveyed to individuals if we think
they may be a victim, obviously, of any type of
influence,” she said.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this story.
DNI Clapper Statement on Conversation with
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
WASHINGTON, DC 20511
January 11, 2017
DNI Clapper Statement on Conversation with
This evening, I had the opportunity to speak with
President-elect Donald Trump to discuss recent media
reports about our briefing last Friday. I expressed my
profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in
the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely
corrosive and damaging to our national security.
We also discussed the private security company document,
which was widely circulated in recent months among the
media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even
before the IC became aware of it. I emphasized that this
document is not a U.S. Intelligence
Community product and that I do not believe the leaks
came from within the IC. The IC has not made any
judgment that the information in this document is
reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our
conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to
ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest
possible picture of any matters that might affect
President-elect Trump again affirmed his appreciation
for all the men and women serving in the Intelligence
Community, and I assured him that the IC stands ready to
serve his Administration and the American people.
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
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expressed in this article are the author's own and do
not necessarily reflect Information Clearing House