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 ClapperTrump predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' The curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward MORE denied on Wednesday that the FBI sought to spy on President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE's campaign, saying that the bureau used an informant to "determine what the Russians were up to."

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 NunesNunes: 'Sickening' that Schiff obtained his phone records Trump's exceptionalism: No president has so disrespected our exceptional institutions Schiff: Blowback to obtaining phone records 'has only come from the far right' 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.