National Security

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

Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied on Wednesday that the FBI sought to spy on President Trump’s campaign, saying that the bureau used an informant to “determine what the Russians were up to.”


“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 Nunes (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 Kelly 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.

Tags Devin Nunes Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign FBI informant James Clapper James Clapper John Kelly Russia Investigation

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