Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday denied that he tipped off CNN’s Jake Tapper about the briefing former FBI Director James Comey gave to President-elect Trump about the dossier that sparked the network’s first reporting on the dossier.
In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Clapper said the “first interaction” he had with CNN “of any sort” was on May 14, 2017, when he appeared on State of the Union.
“The first interaction I had of any sort, physical or electronic, was on May 14th, 2017, when I appeared on State of the Union,” he said. “So you know, this is just sort of made up,” Clapper said, blaming House Republicans.
“So you did not tip Jake?” Hewitt asked. “No,” Clapper answered. “I did not.”
However, Clapper’s remarks conflict with what he told House Intelligence Committee investigators in a closed interview on July 17, 2017.
According to final reports by both the committee’s Democrats and Republicans, the former DNI first denied discussing the Steele dossier “or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election” with journalists. But then he subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with Tapper.
Here is an excerpt from the Democrats’ report:
MR. ROONEY: Did you confirm or corroborate the contents of the dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper?
MR. CLAPPER: 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. We were kind of behind the power curve, because the media, many media outlets that I understood had that, had the dossier for some time, as did people on the Hill.
CNN published their report on January 10, 2017 — months before May 14, 2017, as Clapper claimed he first had interaction with Tapper.
Clapper was squishy during his interview with investigators on when the discussion with Tapper took place, only saying “by the time of that, they already knew about it.” He also admits “many media outlets … had the dossier for some time.”
He also said he discussed it with Tapper “once it was public,” and “out in the media,” without clarifying what he means by “public” or “out in the media.”
According to memos created by former FBI Director James Comey, in early January, Clapper asked him to brief President-elect Trump on the existence of the dossier and its salacious claims, since multiple media outlets had it, and were waiting for a “news hook” in order to publish it.
Comey’s briefing to Trump then became the “news hook” CNN used to publish a report on the dossier a few days later.
During his interview with Hewitt, Clapper also denied knowing anything until after he left office about FBI informant Stefan Halper, who reached out to Trump campaign members during the election.
Clapper, now a CNN analyst, is on a publicity tour to promote his new book Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence.”