In Monday’s Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty usefully outlined some intriguing statements made by former Obama national intelligence director James Clapper regarding the FISA surveillance controversy. Clapper’s remarks, in an interview by NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on Sunday, are being taken as a blanket denial of the allegations that the Obama administration used the Justice Department and FBI to investigate Trump-campaign figures, potentially including Trump himself.
But what Clapper said is far from a wholesale rejection of the allegations. To be sure, General Clapper’s statements convincingly shoot down the claim that Trump himself was wiretapped by the government. But to my knowledge, no one has made that claim other than President Trump, in a series of controversial tweets on Saturday morning. Clapper’s statements do nothing to undermine the overarching allegation that the Obama Justice Department investigated associates of Trump who had varying connections to his campaign.
I’m going to assume the truth of General Clapper’s statements. Understandably, many commentators stress that, in the past, he has been caught testifying to things that were untrue (denying bulk metadata collection by intelligence agencies) or ridiculous (asserting that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular”).