Clapper notes 'curious pattern' of Russian deaths

Clapper notes 'curious pattern' of Russian deaths
© Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there is a “curious pattern” of deaths of opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin who have questioned or challenged his role. 

“Well, this obviously has been a curious pattern,” Clapper told host Jake Tapper Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Clapper said intelligence officials have not been able to gather enough evidence to prove the claim by many critics that Putin has opponents killed. 

“We have had difficulty, though, in actually generating an evidentiary trail that could equate convincingly and compellingly in a court of law a direct connection between certain figures that have been eliminated who apparently ran afoul of Putin,” he added.

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Clapper said it is an “interesting pattern. I will put it that way."

The wife of one of Putin’s most prominent critics, activist and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, said her husband had been poisoned again, after experiencing kidney failure and being put in a medically induced coma in February. She reportedly said the doctors diagnosed him with an “acute poisoning by an unidentified substance."

President Trump, during an interview in early February with then-Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly, defended Putin and objected to him being called "a killer."

“We have a lot of killers,” Trump said at the time. “You think our country is so innocent?”

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE (R-Fla.) and other lawmakers shot back at Trump for comparing the U.S. to an authoritarian regime. 

Clapper’s comments come amid ongoing investigations into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently said U.S. relations with Russia are at an all-time low.