Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed Tuesday that he “made a mistake,” but that he didn’t lie when he told Sen. Ron Wyden in 2013 that the National Security Agency doesn’t collect data on Americans.
Clapper was defending himself on “The View” after President Donald Trump called him a “lying machine.”
A report from The Guardian later that year showed that Clapper’s statement was false, that the NSA does collect phone metadata on millions of Americans. (RELATED: Trump Takes Out ‘Fake News’ CNN And ‘Lying Machine’ James Clapper In One Blow)
Trump tweeted in April:
“Clapper lied about (fraudulent) Dossier leaks to CNN” @foxandfriends FoxNews He is a lying machine who now works for Fake News CNN.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2018
“He was asking me about one [thing], and I was thinking about another,” Clapper said of Wyden. “So, I made a mistake, but I didn’t lie.”
When co-host Meghan McCain pressed him on whether it was a lie, he doubled back on his first answer.
“No, it isn’t a lie. I was thinking about something else, another program” — Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he said.
He added that Sen. Wyden asked the question in a “euphemistic way”: “I didn’t break the code.”
Clapper continued, “Had I still been on the same page with him and understood what he was asking me, I would have still been at a bad place because at the time that program was classified.”
Wyden’s question, however, was simple and clear: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” Clapper responded at the time. “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
Clapper has this week defended an FBI informant nested in the Trump campaign. The former Director of National Intelligence said last week that the informant was “a good thing.” During his interview with “The View” Tuesday, he said Trump should be glad that an FBI informant was secretly observing his 2016 campaign for possible Russian interference. (RELATED: Clapper: It’s ‘A Good Thing’ FBI Was Spying On Trump Campaign)
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