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Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that his earlier statements that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia should not be considered “exculpatory.”
Clapper, appearing on on State of the Union, said that he had made his earlier claims based on information he had seen, which had not included information about an ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation.
“I deferred to the FBI director … So my statement was premised on, first, the context of our intelligence community assessment … There was no reporting in that intelligence community assessment about political collusion.”
He also said that his March 5 statement to Meet the Press that he had not seen any evidence of collusion had been made before former FBI Director James Comey had testified to Congress about the investigation.
“I can’t refute it and I can’t confirm it,” Clapper said.
(In his testimony on March 20, Comey would not answer whether there was evidence of collusion or coordination, but merely said the FBI was investigating that.)
Tapper never asked Clapper whether he had come under pressure, since making his March 5 statement, to back away from his initial conclusions.
Another former senior Obama administration official had likewise said there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell said on March 16: “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all.”
A front-page New York Times report on Inauguration Day revealed that there were ongoing investigations into three Trump aids, but added that there was “no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.