Clapper praises Trump whistleblower for 'best written' complaint he's seen

Clapper praises Trump whistleblower for 'best written' complaint he's seen
© Lauren Schneiderman

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James ClapperJames Robert ClapperWe need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Whistleblowers and the hypocrisy of the ruling class Hillicon Valley: Clapper praises whistleblower complaint | Senators urge social media giants to take action against 'deepfakes' | Tim Cook asks Supreme Court to protect DACA | Harris pushes Twitter to suspend Trump MORE on Wednesday described the complaint submitted by an anonymous whistleblower about President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE’s communications with Ukraine as the “best written” and “best prepared” complaint he had ever seen.

“I would say that of all the whistleblower complaints that I ever saw during my 6 1/2 years as DNI that this one was the best written, best prepared, footnoted and caveated as appropriately it should be,” Clapper, who served as DNI under former President Obama from 2010 until the beginning of 2017, said at The Washington Post’s Cybersecurity Summit.

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Clapper said he did not remember a whistleblower complaint being submitted to the intelligence community’s inspector general that was “declared to be urgent,” as the recent whistleblower complaint was deemed to be.

Clapper praised the anonymous whistleblower for “complying meticulously with the provisions of the law” involved with submitting a complaint, and emphasized that “serious, credible complaints of wrongdoing should be investigated.”

The complaint details concerns around a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

The complaint is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

Trump last week described the whistleblower as “close to a spy” while speaking at a private event, according to audio obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Clapper said that comments like this were “not a good thing.”

“That is not good for morale, and that is not good for our intelligence partners who share with us, in good faith, information that they believe is germane to our national security,” Clapper said.  

Clapper was joined at the summit on Wednesday by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who served under former President George W. Bush. Chertoff described the whistleblower complaint as a matter of “significant concern,” but urged caution when drawing conclusions.

“Any investigation ought to be dispassionate, fair, thorough and expeditious,” Chertoff said. “What should not happen is people announcing the result they think they are going to get before the investigation is done because that impairs the credibility of the whole process.”

Both Clapper and Chertoff also discussed the state of election security headed into 2020, with both expressing optimism around the cybersecurity of voting machines, while sounding the alarm on continued disinformation threats to elections from social media campaigns.

“Disinformation, I think this is a challenge that is broader than the election itself,” Chertoff said, adding that “job No. 1 is to get people to be critical in their thinking when they see a story and not simply accept it as true because ‘it’s on the internet.’ ”

Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE detailed in his report on Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections a sustained social media disinformation campaign meant to skew the election in favor of Trump. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department sanctioned several Russian individuals for attempting to interfere in the 2018 elections through disinformation tactics.

“Securing the voting apparatus, voting machines, computation votes, the transmission of votes and all that, that is hugely important, but that to me at least is one bin of the problem,” Clapper said. “The other bin is what I might call, for lack of a better term, intellectual security, meaning how do you get people to question what you see written here on the internet, and this is where the Russians exploited us, exploited our divisiveness by using social media. That part of the problem I am not sure about.”