Finding #44: Did James Clapper Leak Information To CNN Before Accepting A Media Deal?

220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portrait200px-Cnn.svgBelow is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the finding by The House Intelligence Committee with regard to the allegation that Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper may have leaked information on the Steele dossier.  The record is still surprisingly muddled on what Clapper is saying about his media contacts during this period. At best, it appears that he may have confirmed elements of the dossier after leaving office on January 20, 2017, but his comments have been (as described by the Committee) “inconsistent.” At worse, he could be accused (again) of perjury.

Here is the column:

Friday’s release of the House Intelligence Committee report generated much coverage over its finding of no evidence of collusion with the Russians. Receiving less attention was a small section entitled “Finding #44,” where the committee suggested that then-Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper leaked information from the so-called Steele dossier. Even worse for Clapper, the alleged leak was made to CNN, which later hired him as a contributor.

If true, both the national intelligence chief and then-FBI Director James Comey leaked information while denying such violations to Congress. Moreover, even if Clapper waited until shortly after leaving office, it is deeply troubling that he would confirm details of the dossier, which was under investigation.

The report recounts how Clapper gave “inconsistent testimony” to Congress when he denied ever “discuss[ing] the dossier or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists.” That has proven to be untrue. Clapper later admitted he discussed the “dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper” and indicated he may have discussed the material with other journalists.

The timing is notable.

Clapper discussed the information in “early January 2017.” There was no compelling need to confirm the information, given the ongoing investigation and that it was still a subject of highly classified deliberations. Indeed, with FBI personnel looking into the matter, confirming the information could be viewed as unhelpful. Its most obvious value was to undermine Donald Trump.

In other words, the disclosure advanced political, not public, interests.

Clapper allegedly gave CNN the confirmation around the time that President Obama and President-elect Trump were given classified briefings on the dossier. On Jan. 10, 2017, Tapper and CNN ran with the breaking news that Obama and Trump were briefed on the “memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative.” Tapper cited “U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings” and even described the “two-page synopsis” given to Obama and Trump. (The dossier was published in full by BuzzFeed after CNN’s disclosure.)

After leaving office, Clapper began regular commentary with CNN and became a paid CNN contributor in August 2017.

Clapper is accused of not only lying to the public but to the media for which he now works. After Trump objected to the leaking of the dossier story, CNN covered Clapper’s statement that he assured the incoming president neither he nor anyone in the intelligence community was responsible: “I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”

In March, Clapper, again on CNN, insisted, “I didn’t have any contact with media until after I left the government on the 20th of January, so I don’t quite understand, at least what I’ve read, that somehow I leaked about the dossier.” CNN host Don Lemon then asked, “So you didn’t leak anything about the dossier to any media?” Clapper answered, “No, not — I mean, I talked about it after I left the government, but not during that period, and certainly not between the 6th of January and the 10th when the president-elect himself talked about it.”

If Clapper confirmed the information before he left office on Jan. 20, he could again be accused of perjury. However, there remain concerns over Clapper discussing the internal review of the dossier in the midst of the ongoing investigation; doing so shortly after his departure from office does not alter its unprofessional character. It is even worse if Clapper is seen as leveraging such insider information while considering a possible media deal with CNN.

This is not the first time Clapper has been accused of giving false testimony to Congress and the public. Ironically, when Clapper was discussing this information with CNN, the statute of limitations was winding down on his lying to Congress about the controversial surveillance program that impacted virtually all Americans. Clapper denied the existence of the program to the Senate and, when later confronted over his perjury, insisted his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. That still makes it untruthful, but in Washington, people like Clapper do not get indicted for perjury. Clapper was made a CNN contributor after the statute of limitations expired on his alleged perjury.

Notably, Comey wrote in one of his memos that CNN had the information on the dossier and was looking for a “news hook” to run it. That news hook became the leak that Comey briefed Trump on the dossier. CNN has appropriately declined to answer media questions of whether Comey or Clapper were sources for its dossier story.

After leaving as DNI, Clapper was used repeatedly by CNN without mentioning his alleged perjury on the surveillance program. CNN, for example, did not mention it in using him to rebut Trump’s allegation that his campaign staff was surveilled under the Obama administration; Clapper categorically denied it and said he would have been aware of such secret surveillance. In fact, Trump associates, including Carter Page, were under surveillance.

Democrats have rushed to shield Clapper and denounced questions about his conduct as a “smear campaign.” They note that, when later confronted directly in his testimony about his discussions with Tapper, he said: “Well, by the time of that, they already knew about it. By the time it was — it was after — I don’t know exactly the sequence there, but it was pretty close to when we briefed it and when it was out all over the place. The media had it by the way.”

That, however, is different from what he said in his public statement. Nor does it change the gravity of his conduct. Having the dossier did not change CNN’s need for confirmation from government officials. Indeed, Comey admitted the media was looking for a hook and still required confirmation of the information. If Clapper gave it to Tapper, he lied to Congress, other media and the public. Moreover, Clapper told Congress “it was pretty close to when we briefed it.” The briefing (which Clapper includes himself as part of) occurred before Jan. 10, not after Jan. 20. “Pretty close” is not a defense to perjury.

Of course, neither is describing a lie as the “least untruthful answer” — but that worked fine for Clapper in his prior “inconsistent” testimony.

CNN will be rightfully celebrated for its disclosure of the dossier during Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The assembled press will honor the network for its story and how “the CNN team later reported that then-FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump about the dossier. Thanks to this CNN investigation, ‘the dossier’ is now part of the lexicon.”

Many will be looking in the audience for CNN’s national security expert — James Clapper.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

215 thoughts on “Finding #44: Did James Clapper Leak Information To CNN Before Accepting A Media Deal?”

  1. The “news hook” that CNN was looking for is a joke. For CNN to use that as their excuse for reporting on the dossier is equivalent to them saying that the dossier itself doesn’t contain anything newsworthy; they are claiming that it was the admission that President-elect Trump and President Obama had been briefed about its existence was the newsworthy part.

    By admitting that what was in the dossier itself was without merit, since exposing the existence of the dossier to the American public was not considered newsworthy, they placed themselves at the center of the story when they reported that the President-elect was told about it was suddenly newsworthy.

    I guess CNN thinks that telling us who has information is more informative than telling us what the referenced information actually is.

  2. Late4Dinner said: Hang in there, Peter Hill. Cartoon penguins in top-hats and bow-ties pose an extreme longshot for the violent overthrow The United State of America.

    Painting your opposition as violent revolutionary? Kind of lazy; wouldn’t you say?

    Late4Dinner said: Peter Hill had nothing whatsoever to do with compiling the Trump-Russia dossier. Your attribution to the contrary is false.

    True. It was unfair to lump Peter in with the creative writers responsible for the dossier. For that I apologize. However, I stand by the categorical logic identifying him as of the ilk responsible for its creation. Like attracts like; frauds attract frauds in defense of a common fraudulent plan or scheme.

    What’s your excuse?

    Late4Dinner said: Cartoon Penguin, Natacha exercises her First Amendment right to speak freely and to express herself freely. To call that by the names of tyranny and treason is . . . (what’s the word) . . . un-American.

    You are free to lie and cheat to whatever extent the public will tolerate. BTW, I’m not the state; ergo, no state action; ergo no 1st Amendment issue. But thanks for playing anyway.

    Late4Dinner said: The United States of America is not governed by John Locke’s second treatise On Government. Threatening treason charges against the people investigating Trump is much closer to tyranny than anything the people investigating Trump have done.

    I think it was John Lennon who sang: “Look for the fraud with kaleidoscopic eyes.”

    “Fraud is kaleidoscopic, infinite. [And that] being infinite and taking on protean form at will, were courts to cramp themselves by defining fraud with a hard-and-fast definition, their jurisdiction would be cunningly circumvented at once by new schemes beyond the definition ….. Accordingly definitions of fraud are of set purpose left general and flexible and thereto courts match their astuteness against the versatile inventions of fraud-doers.” (Stonemets v. Head, 248 Mo. 243, 263, 154 S.W. 108, 114 (1913) )

    Once again, my dear fraud:

    “Whenever power is put into some hands for the government of the people, and is then diverted from that purpose and used to subdue the people to the arbitrary commands of those that have the power, then that immediately becomes tyranny, whether the power-holders are one or many.” – J. Locke

    The fraudulent use of the Federal powers of intelligence and law enforcement so as to “subdue the people to the arbitrary commands of those entrusted with those powers” — in furtherance of a plot to remove a legally elected president from power — is tyranny by definition.

    Unless you’re prepared to claim that truth is no longer “the agreement between knowledge and its object”, i.e. lie to yourself and others, no amount of “politics as usual” spin will work here. You’re free to deny that tyranny is not the first and foremost enemy of our constitutional republic; as clearly spelled out within the Declaration of Independence and further illustrated by the framework of our Constitution. Thus, you’re also free to deny that an act of tyranny is not an act of treason per se. And you’re free to deny that the exercise of said tyrannical powers in furtherance of a design to remove a lawfully elected president isn’t treason as well.

    However, the law of non-contradiction requires a resolution. You can either affirm the social compact that’s been in place since the inception of this country by enforcing its covenants and restrictions against tyranny; or you can affirmatively abandon the compact altogether, as progressives have been wont to do since the days of Woodrow Wilson; ensuring the achievement of your political ends.

    But you can’t have both.

    Decide.

    1. Bobesque said, “And you’re free to deny that the exercise of said tyrannical powers in furtherance of a design to remove a lawfully elected president isn’t treason as well.”

      Paraphrase: Treason shall consist of an overt act of war against The United States or a State thereof, or of lending aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States or a state thereof.

      Interpretation: An enemy of The United States or a State thereof would presumably commit an overt act of war against The United States or a State thereof. Lending aid and comfort to someone who is not committing an overt act of war against The United States or a State thereof would not constitute an act of treason under the Constitution of The United States. It is for the very reason that Russia has not yet committed an overt act of war against The United States that L4D will not yet level a charge of treason against The POTUS, Trump.

      1. Late4Dinner: Interpretation: An enemy of The United States or a State thereof would presumably commit an overt act of war against The United States or a State thereof. Lending aid and comfort to someone who is not committing an overt act of war against The United States or a State thereof would not constitute an act of treason under the Constitution of The United States. It is for the very reason that Russia has not yet committed an overt act of war against The United States that L4D will not yet level a charge of treason against The POTUS, Trump.

        Speaking of “betrayal”, the foregoing betrays your ignorance of the architecture of our constitutional republic.

        Behind the first and foremost enemy of the United Sates: http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr18.htm

        As water is the defining enemy of any boat or ship, so tyranny is the defining enemy of our constitutional republic.

        “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

        Once again,

        “Whenever power is put into some hands for the government of the people, and is then diverted from that purpose and used to subdue the people to the arbitrary commands of those that have the power, then that immediately becomes tyranny, whether the power-holders are one or many.” – J. Locke

        The fraudulent use of the Federal powers of intelligence and law enforcement so as to “subdue the people to the arbitrary commands of those entrusted with those powers” — in furtherance of a plot to remove a legally elected president from power — is both TYRANNICAL and MUTINOUS.

        Unless you’re prepared to claim that truth is no longer “the agreement between knowledge and its object”, i.e. lie to yourself and others, no amount of “politics as usual” spin will work here. You’re free to deny that tyranny is not the first and foremost enemy of our constitutional republic; as clearly spelled out within the Declaration of Independence and further illustrated by the framework of our Constitution. Thus, you’re also free to deny that an act of tyranny is not an act of treason per se. And you’re free to deny that the exercise of said tyrannical powers in furtherance of a design to remove a lawfully elected president isn’t treason as well.

        However, the law of non-contradiction requires a resolution. You can either affirm the social compact that’s been in place since the inception of this country by enforcing its covenants and restrictions against tyranny; or you can affirmatively abandon the compact altogether, as progressives have been wont to do since the days of Woodrow Wilson; ensuring the achievement of your political ends.

        But you can’t have both.

        Once again; decide.

  3. Squeeky – finally got to read the play. I do have a note for you. If you have a one-act, you do not put act i, sc i, just sc i., etc. This is what we call a ‘closet drama’ meant to be read rather than acted. Although, if you do decide to produce it, I have other production notes. 😉

  4. Peter,..
    Neither Steele nor Fusion GPS nor Perkins Coie nor the DNC nor the Hillary Campaign Fund expected Trump to win, so it’s inlikely that the dossier would have seen the light of day.
    I don’t know what the hell they thought would happen if Trump won, but the surfacing of the dossier has understandably caused a great deal of controversy.
    That’s not a big surprise when you look at a foreign agent doing opposition research with other foreign sources to kneecap a candidate, and then a President-elect.
    I mentioned this once before, but in the when the Trump Tower meeting news broke, there was outrage that the Trump campaign would try to get dirt on Hillary from “a Russian!”, of all people.
    I could ask you the same question you asked, “why wouldn’t” the Trump campaign get dirt on Hillary from a Russian?
    When that news broke, there was an extended interview on the PBS Newshour with two former campaign officials…one for Bush, and one for Obama.
    They walked through the issue of “campaign opposition research” and what was involved, and what the limits were.
    They both blanched at the idea of using foreign sources for opp. research, and said that historically that research had limits in that domestic resources were fair game, use of foreign opp. research was unprecendented and legally questionable.
    Without tracking it down, I think that interview was early July 2017 and can be found in PBS archives.
    That is the interview that I mentioned before.
    So there outrage professed when the Trump guys tried to get negative info on Hillary from a “Russian!”, and the DNC, Perkins Coie, the Hillary campaign, Fusion GPS, and Orbis/ Steele get a pass when they make a major project out of using foreign opp. research.
    That is blatant hypocrisy…those involved tried to cover their tracks by using intermediaries.
    Then, when they’re caught, they act as if it was a noble, patriotic project necessary to protect America.
    To this day, the key figures in the Dempcratic Party…Hillary, Podesta, DW Scultz, Donna Brazile, etc. all DENY that they knew about it.
    This is likely one of the issues that the U.S. Attorney Huber is investigating; this dossier didn’t just fall out of the sky, there were people writing checks and probably being appraised of Steele’s research.
    Steele has admitted “shopping” the contents of the dossier to the media, BEFORE the election.
    The established media outlets would not touch unverified opposition research peddled by Steele; “Mother Jones” was the only one that did, c. 10 days before the election.
    Another aspect likely to be under investion is the connection between DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr’s wife, and her undisclosed employment by Fusion GPS before the election.
    And it was either James Baker of the DOJ/FBI, or Bruce Ohr who was in contact with David Corn of Mother Jones.
    Whether Hillary herself authorized plugging the dossier to the medis, or was aware of it, it was not for lack of effort on Fusion’s part or Steele’s part to get it out there before the election.
    They mostly failed because they were presenting a set of unverified accusations they wanted published.
    Steele contacted the FBI in July 2016 with his allegations, and nearly two years later we’re still screwing around with these back and forth claims, “Oh, it’s verified”, “No, it’s not verified”, “parts of it have been verified”.

  5. @MaxBlumenthal

    Israel’s unprovoked attack on T-4 base in Homs was the obvious precursor to Netanyahu’s address tonight. It is targeting Iran in Syria to drag the US into a wider war.

    As usual, Israel is waging an information war to push the US into a real one on its behalf. Here’s Netanyahu in 1990 urging the US to carry out a war of regime change against Iraq to destroy Saddam’s non existent nuclear program:

    1. srael’s unprovoked attack on T-4 base in Homs

      How do you come by the idea it was ‘unprovoked’?

  6. Finding #44: Did James Clapper Leak Information To CNN Before Accepting A Media Deal?

    James Robert Clapper Jr served in the US Air Force 1963 – 1995.

    James then served as director at the National Geospatial Intelligance Agency 2001 – 2006.

    He then served as Director National Intelligence 2010 – 2017.

    Presently, James Robert Clapper Jr is completely finished with the pretense of Duty, Honor, Country* and now serves only himself.

    Once a lying self-serving turdstain always a lying self-serving turdstain.

    * General MacArthur’s Thayer Award Speech — Duty, Honor, Country (1962)

    http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/au-24/au24-352mac.htm

    James Robert Clapper Jr lying self-serving turdstain.

  7. “We’re about to see a lot more of the Clintons, according to Axios.

    After laying low for 18 months, aside from Hillary once again insulting half of America and slip-sliding down a flight of stairs hours later, the former first family will be making a bona-fide attempt to rise from the ashes and jumpstart the Clinton Foundation ATM – despite the FBI launching a new investigation into the organization in January.”

    Clintons Orchestrate Rise From Ashes With $100,000 Dinner, Bill’s Novel, And Chelsea’s Twitter Game

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-30/clintons-orchestrate-rise-ashes-100000-dinner-bills-novel-and-chelseas-twitter-game

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