U.S. intelligence chief had no knowledge of Trump investigation before Jan. 20

by WorldTribune Staff, May 21, 2017

During an appearance on “Meet the Press” in March, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper said that a multi-agency intelligence assessment he issued in January did not include evidence of President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.

If Clapper had been unaware of any such evidence up through Jan. 20th, his last day in office, then what is going on with “Russiagate” that has Washington in a frenzy? “Why can’t we be told what’s going on?” asked Matt Taibbi, writing for Rolling Stone.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. / Reuters

“Operational secrecy would be a believable excuse, were it not for the fact that so much else has been leaked. Intelligence sources even appeared to give up their ability to capture Russian officials celebrating Trump’s election win. If something like that can be leaked, and if even foreign governments can be told about ‘leverages of pressure’ Russia allegedly has on Trump, it stands to reason that the American public should have heard what’s behind the Trump-Russia investigation by now.”

Clapper later said that his comments on “Meet the Press” in January didn’t necessarily mean there was no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, because sometimes he left it up to agency chiefs like former FBI Director James Comey to inform him about certain things.

“I left it to the judgment [of] Director Comey,” Clapper said, “to decide whether, when and what to tell me about counterintelligence investigations.”

In recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Clapper “seemed to imply that the Trump-Russia-collusion scandal, the thing colloquially known as #Russiagate all over the world now, may have originated in information gleaned by the intelligence community, who in turn may have tipped off the FBI,” Taibbi wrote.

Clapper said: “When the intelligence community obtains information suggesting that a U.S. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that information with the lead investigatory body, which of course is the FBI.”

He went on, explaining that in such a situation, it wouldn’t be unusual for the DNI to not be informed about an FBI counterintelligence investigation. “Given its sensitivity,” he said, “even the existence of a counterintelligence investigation’s closely held, including at the highest levels.”

Taibbi said the collusion investigation raises some serious questions.

“A lot of our civil liberties protections and rules of press ethics are designed to prevent exactly this situation, in which a person lingers for extended periods of time under public suspicion without being aware of the exact nature, or origin, of the accusations.

“It’s why liberal thinkers have traditionally abhorred secret courts, secret surveillance and secret evidence, and in the past would have reflexively discouraged the news media from printing the unverified or unverifiable charges emanating from such secret sources. But because it’s Donald Trump, no one seems to care.”

Taibbi continued: “We should care. The uncertainty has led to widespread public terror, mass media hysteria and excess, and possibly even panic in the White House itself, where, who knows, Trump may even have risked military confrontation with Russia in an effort to shake the collusion accusations. All of this is exacerbated by the constant stream of leaks and hints at mother lodes of evidence that are just around the corner. It’s quite literally driving the country crazy.”