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Former intel director: The intent was not to spy on Trump’s campaign

Former intel director: The intent was not to spy on Trump’s campaign
© Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperWrong for Democrats to call for more Kavanaugh investigations The Hill's Morning Report — Where the Kavanaugh nomination stands Hillicon Valley: 50M affected by Facebook hack | Google CEO to testify on Capitol Hill | Tesla shares slump after SEC sues | House Intel votes to release Russia probe transcripts | Dem holds up passage of key intel bill MORE denied on Wednesday that the FBI sought to spy on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE's campaign, saying that the bureau used an informant to "determine what the Russians were up to."

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"The intent though … was not to spy on the campaign, but rather to determine what the Russians were up to," Clapper said on PBS's "NewsHour."

"Were they trying to penetrate the campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence?" he continued. "That was the concern the FBI had, and I think they were just doing their job in trying to protect out political system."

President Trump and his allies have raised concerns in recent days about the FBI's use of a top-secret informant, who met with at least three Trump campaign officials during the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump himself has suggested that his campaign was infiltrated by government agents for political purposes. He tweeted on Wednesday that, if the FBI did spy on his campaign, it "could be one of the biggest political scandals in history."

The role of the informant, who has been identified in multiple media reports as Stefan Halper, an American academic and former staffer in the Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has come under scrutiny by some Republicans, who have expressed concern that the Obama administration sought to spy on the Trump campaign.

There is no evidence that the informant was planted within the campaign to gather dirt on Trump and his associates.

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesJuan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Latest on Hurricane Michael | Trump, Kanye West to have lunch at White House | GOP divided over potential 2020 high court vacancy Senate Dem: Trump's 'fake, hyperbolic rantings' an insult to real Medal of Honor recipients MORE (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, subpoenaed the Justice Department earlier this month for all records related to the informant. That request was initially denied, out of concern that providing the documents could endanger the source and his associates.

The White House said this week that chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE would convene a meeting of law enforcement and intelligence officials and a select group of Republican lawmakers to "review highly classified and other information" about the informant. White House officials and Democrats reportedly will not be present.