President Obama’s director of national intelligence identified one claim made in the dossier on Donald Trump that U.S. officials have corroborated, though it is likely to underwhelm Trump’s critics.
Speaking to ABC News this week, James Clapper said that officials have corroborated the part of the dossier that asserts that Russian president Vladimir Putin has a “rabid animus” for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
But that’s all that Clapper would cite as decidedly accurate in the dossier, which was compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele.
That Putin has intense hatred for the Clintons is not news, nor is it among the more salacious allegations in the 35-page dossier, which was financed by an opposition research firm working for allies of Hillary Clinton.
“Are there parts of that dossier that have been corroborated?” Ross asked Clapper.
“There were some, particularly pertaining to the rabid animus … that Putin had for the Clintons, both President Clinton and Secretary Clinton,” Clapper said.
“There are some parts of that dossier that have been corroborated?” Ross repeated, a slight hint of surprise in his voice. CNN reported last month that intelligence officials had verified some parts of the dossier, though there was no indication which parts they believed were true.
“As I said, the example I cite is animus for the Clintons, and that we saw from other sources,” Clapper told Ross.
“And are there other parts that have not been corroborated?” the reporter asked.
“That’s all I’m going to comment on the dossier,” Clapper shot back.
Clapper’s statements are significant given their lack of anything resembling confirmation of the most serious allegations in the dossier: that the Russian government has blackmail material on Trump and that the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to sway the election
Clapper poured cold water on the latter allegation over the weekend, saying that “there was no evidence whatsoever … of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
Clapper’s statements undercutting the dossier have gotten little attention in the press. As an example, most of his ABC News segment aired only online and not on the network’s nightly broadcast.
But ABC did broadcast the part of Clapper’s interview where he was more critical of Trump, specifically on the president’s claims that Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower during the campaign.
“There was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the national intelligence community,” Clapper insisted, rebutting an unfounded claim Trump made on Saturday.
Clapper also dished on his conversations with Trump about the dossier just before the the inauguration.
The retired general said that Trump asked him on Jan. 11 to publicly rebut the dossier. Clapper declined to do so. He also said that Trump informed him on Jan. 17 “that he believed all the information that was contained in the data of this dossier was false.”