Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper downplayed President Donald Trump’s concern that the FBI spied on his campaign, saying that would be “a good thing” if they did.
“If there was someone that was observing that sort of thing,” Clapper said Thursday, “that’s a good thing because the Russians pose a threat to the very basis of our political system.”
Watch Clapper’s interview below:
Earlier that day, Trump harped on how if the FBI did spy on his campaign, that constituted a scandal worse than Watergate:
Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.” Andrew McCarthy says, “There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.” If so, this is bigger than Watergate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018
Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
Although Clapper said an FBI spy would have been beneficial, he doubted that happened and called Trump’s tweet “hyperbole.”
Clapper also said that he thought special counsel Robert Mueller was just getting started with his investigation into the 2016 election and Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russians.
CNN host Don Lemon had just shown Clapper a chart with the length of time for previous special/independent counsel investigations, of which the Russia probe was the shortest.
“As I say, for an investigation as young as this one,” Clapper said, “I think they made a lot of progress and it’s been very productive.”
Mueller’s investigation brought multiple indictments in the new year, including one alleging that multiple Russian entities meddled in the 2016 election. The indictment, however, did not allege that Trump’s campaign engaged in any kind of intentional collusion.