Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is throwing his weight behind an argument President Joe Biden made last week, saying Donald Trump cannot be trusted with classified information now that he’s out of office.
Asked what his “fear” is if Trump continues to receive intelligence briefings, which are typically given to former leaders, Clapper told CNN’s New Day Trump has “demonstrated a disdain for both the substance of intelligence as well as its protection.”
The former intelligence official then accused the former president of “weaponizing” classified material in the past, as well as sharing it “with the Russians,” without providing any evidence for that statement.
Clapper also added financial debt as a vague reason for denying Trump the briefings.
“And so I just don’t – and plus there is potential financial entanglements, there is debt, which to a normal person would be a real red flag for a judicator or somebody deciding on whether someone should have access to classified information. So for all those reasons, I think this is absolutely the right decision,” he said.
James Clapper: Biden curtailing Trump’s access to intel briefings makes sense because he’s “on occasion weaponized it against political opponents” pic.twitter.com/AlbvcHpVik
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 8, 2021
President Biden mentioned briefly in a Friday interview he had hesitation over whether Trump should receive intelligence briefings.
“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” he said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, later clarified the comments and appeared to suggest Trump receiving briefings would not be up to his predecessor.
“The president was expressing his concern about former President Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence,” she said to the Washington Post, “but he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point the former President Trump requests a briefing.”
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Clapper being asked his ‘expert’ opinion on whether someone should be trusted with classified information or not may come across as at least partly ironic. The former intelligence official is well-known for falsely claiming under oath that the government was “not wittingly” collecting phone records of millions of Americans, a program that was exposed by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The testimony before Congress led many, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), to repeatedly call for Clapper to face legal consequences for lying under oath.
Clapper has since tried to defend himself by claiming he simply did not understand the question he was being asked.
“I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake, and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about,” Clapper told CNN in 2019. “I thought of another surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, when I was being asked about Section 215 of the Patriot Act at the time, I just didn’t understand that. ”
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