Clapper: ‘Conceivable’ Trump was picked up on Manafort wiretap

Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in an interview late Wednesday night would not rule out the possibility that a wiretap of Paul Manafort picked up conversations with President Trump.

Clapper told CNN’s Don Lemon that he had no knowledge of a FISA warrant targeting Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and said that he “stands on” his previous statements claiming there was no wiretap of Trump Tower.

“Is it possible the president was picked up in a conversation with Paul Manafort?” Lemon asked.

“It’s certainly conceivable,” Clapper replied.

“Is it likely?” Lemon then asked.

“Uh, I can’t say,” Clapper responded. “I — uh — wouldn’t wanna go there, but I will say, it’s possible.”

{mosads}Clapper, who served in the Obama administration, reminded Lemon that FISA warrants are classified, and that he wouldn’t be able to discuss them if he did have knowledge of their use.

Clapper also responded to a Washington Post report that Manafort offered to brief a top Russian oligarch on the Trump campaign.  Clapper told CNN that Russia may have viewed Manafort as a “witting accomplice” to interference in the 2016 election.

“They would regard him perhaps as a witting accomplice as part of their overall campaign to interfere with the election,” Clapper said. “So if they had a witting and willing participant who would engage with them, talk with them, who in their mind had some inside access or influence in the campaign … I think they would view that as a favorable line of exploitation.”

Clapper has said in the past that Watergate, which famously brought down former President Richard Nixon, “pales” in comparison to the allegations that sparked multiple investigations into Russian meddling in the election.

“I think [if] you compare the two, that Watergate pales really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now,” he said in July.

“So the question is: How long can these assaults go on and the institutions not be irrevocably damaged? I honestly can’t say,” he added at the time.

—This report was updated at 9:02 a.m.


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