News & Politics

Did James Clapper Commit Perjury When He Testified He Didn't Brief Obama on Flynn Wiretaps?

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2017 file photo, then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump and Clapper, the former national intelligence chief, are trading verbal barbs that started after Clapper questioned Trump’s fitness to be in the Oval Office. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

In July of 2017, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about the Trump-Russia investigation. During this testimony, he claimed he did not brief Barack Obama regarding the wiretapped phone conversations of Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak and incoming Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

But, as Sean Davis of The Federalist notes, “accounts from fired former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) executives James Comey and Andrew McCabe, however, directly contradict Clapper’s claim.”

Here’s Clapper’s testimony on this point.

MR ROONEY: Do you know who told you about the conversation?

MR. CLAPPER: Bob Litt, my general counsel.

MR. ROONEY: What was your response when he told you?

MR. CLAPPER: WeII, I was — I was kind of disturbed about it, frankly. We had just done — announced sanctions on the 29th of December, you know, closing the dachas, expelling 35 of their intelligence operatives, and sanctioning some other people. So it was disconcerting, I’ll put it that way, to learn of that conversation.

MR. ROONEY: Right. Did you share that —

MR. CLAPPER: Especially for me, since I have a long history with Mike Flynn.

MR. ROONEY: Well, and as you say, I mean not to editorialize here, but, you know, given our relationship with Russia over the decades, I think that, as you testified and as you stated earlier, it’s certainly not something that, you know, General Flynn should have been doing, not being a member of the government. Did you ever brief President Obama on the phone call, the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls?

MR. CLAPPER: No.

But James Comey testified in March 2017 that it was Clapper who briefed Obama about the phone calls.

“And so we were all tasked to find out, do you have anything [redacted] that might reflect on this. That turned up these calls [between Flynn and Kislyak] at the end of December, beginning of January.” Comey testified. “And then I briefed it to the Director of National Intelligence, and Director Clapper asked me for copies [redacted], which I shared with him,” Comey continued. “In the first week of January, he briefed the President and the Vice President and then President Obama’s senior team about what we found and what we had seen to help them understand why the Russians were reacting the way they did.”

While Comey may not be the most trustworthy person in the world, his testimony is corroborated by Andrew McCabe, who wrote in his book The Threat that  “An analyst shared it with me; I shared it with Comey; Comey shared it with the director of national intelligence, James Clapper; and Clapper verbally briefed it to President Obama.”

So, why did Clapper lie? Was he trying to protect himself?

Will there be consequences for Clapper for lying? According, Devin Nunes, the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman there have already been criminal referrals to the Justice Department. “You will begin to see where some of our criminal referrals are based out of, some of the false testimony that was given to Congress,” Nunes told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis