What did DNI James Clapper know about FISA wiretaps, and when did he know it?

by WorldTribune Staff, September 22, 2017

Revelations this week that the Obama administration obtained a FISA court order to wiretap former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort directly contradict what former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said twice in on-air interviews.

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in March, Clapper denied any such FISA wiretap existed:

Obama administration Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. / Reuters

NBC’s Chuck Todd: Yeah, I was just going to say, if the FBI, for instance, had a FISA court order of some sort for a surveillance, would that be information you would know or not know?

Clapper: Yes.

Todd: You would be told this?

Clapper:I would know that.

Todd: If there was a FISA court order–

Clapper: Yes.

Todd: –on something like this.

Clapper:  Something like this, absolutely.

Todd:  And at this point, you can’t confirm or deny whether that exists?

Clapper:  I can deny it.

During a Sept. 20 appearance on CNN, Clapper repeated the denial:

CNN’s Don Lemon: “Did you know about a FISA warrant against Paul Manafort at the time.”

Clapper: “I did not.”

Larry O’Connor, in a Sept. 21 op-ed for Mediaite, noted that: “James Clapper was the Director of National Intelligence overseeing the surveillance and intelligence gathering of 17 different government agencies. He has correctly asserted that if there was a FISA order to wiretap an American citizen he would know about it. CNN has now confirmed that the FBI had just such an order to monitor Paul Manafort. This leaves us with only a handful of conclusions.

“1. CNN’s reporting is completely wrong resulting in possibly one of the most high-profile journalistic blunders of our time.

“2. James Clapper is a serial liar.

“3. James Clapper has a health condition that has damaged his memory.

“4. The FBI under James Comey’s direction and under President Obama’s control conducted covert, renegade surveillance of American citizens without the appropriate oversight or constitutional checks and balances at such a high level that even the Director of National Intelligence was kept in the dark.”

Either way, O’Connor wrote, “we either have a very sick man in James Clapper, or we have a scandal brewing that could shatter the media’s love affair with the Obama presidency. If they’d only have half an interest in pursuing it.”

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