Clapper: 'Harder and harder to believe' Trump didn't know about campaign contacts with Russians

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said it is "difficult for me to believe" that President Donald...

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 9:10 AM
Updated: Jun 19, 2018 9:10 AM

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said it is "difficult for me to believe" that President Donald Trump did not know about any of the contacts between his campaign and Russians that took place over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign.

"With each subsequent revelation of yet another meeting between someone from the Trump camp and Russians, it gets harder and harder to believe that he didn't know about at least some of them," Clapper said in a Monday interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." "Just statistically, it's illogical. ... It's difficult for me to believe that he didn't know about some of these meetings."

Clapper's comments came in the wake of the revelation Sunday that longtime Trump ally and conservative political provocateur Roger Stone met in May 2016 with a Russian who offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million.

"A major objective of the Russians was to disparage Hillary Clinton and her campaign," Clapper said, "so this comports exactly with yet another way the Russians can do that."

Clapper added that this meeting also fit a broader pattern of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and others affiliated with the Trump campaign and Russians offering damaging information about Clinton.

"The Russians were trying to gain access, leverage to the campaign, and, presumably exert influence," Clapper said.

Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russians during the 2016 election or knowing of any contacts between his campaign and Russians.

Clapper also spoke generally about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign.

He said he did not know how much longer Mueller's probe might last but that it would be "very much a function of what he's found and what leads he's pursuing."

Clapper added that he thinks Mueller will attempt to either release his findings before the 2018 midterm elections or wait until they have ended "to avoid impacting the election itself."

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