Following revelations that the FBI sent an undercover agent to meet with George Papadopoulos in London in 2016, James Clapper was forced to backtrack on his prior comments and admit that this was “spying.”
Earlier in April, Attorney General William Barr had told Congress that “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal”, and Clapper had immediately slammed the suggestion that the Trump campaign may have been spied on as “stunning and scary.” But last Friday, Clapper, who’d been the director of national intelligence under President Obama, conceded that what the FBI had been doing “meets the dictionary definition of spying.”
I missed this from last Friday —
Clapper on whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign: “Well, yeah, I guess it meets the dictionary definition of spying." pic.twitter.com/vNK6HpgTIe
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 7, 2019
Speaking in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on April 10, Barr told the Department of Justice oversight panel that “for the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.” Barr also said he was “not suggesting those rules were violated” but that he does believe “it’s important to look at.”
“I think it’s my obligation,” Barr said.
That same night, Clapper went on CNN to speak with Anderson Cooper and blasted Barr, calling his comments “both stunning and scary.”
“I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing,” Clapper said. “The term ‘spying’ has all kinds of negative connotations and I have to believe he chose that term deliberately.”
But in a widely-overlooked interview on CNN on May 3, Clapper admitted that spying had occurred. When asked by Wolf Blitzer whether spying had occurred, Clapper said that “it’s not a term of art used by intelligence people“ but admitted that “I guess it meets the dictionary definition of surveillance or spying, a term I don’t particularly like.”
Clapper conceded this point following a May 2 story in the New York Times that revealed that a woman who had been posing as the assistant of Stefan Halper, a Cambridge University professor who himself had worked as a Trump campaign informant on behalf of the FBI, was herself working undercover for the FBI. Going by the alias Azra Turk, this yet-unknown woman was reportedly sent to meet with Papadopoulos by one of the FBI agents who had previously spoken at Halper’s Cambridge Intelligence Seminars.
Barr himself has refused to back down from the use of the word “spying” and, responding to questioning in front of the Senate on May 1, Barr said, “I’m not going to abjure the use of the word ‘spying.’ I don’t think — you know, my first job was in the CIA — I don’t think the word ‘spying’ has any pejorative connotation at all.”
“To me, the question is always whether or not it is authorized and adequately predicated spying,” Barr said. “I think ‘spying’ is a good English word that, in fact, doesn’t have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating all forms of covert intelligence collections. So I’m not going to back off of the word ‘spying’ and I use it frequently as the media.”
Attorney General William Barr also told Congress he was “working very closely” with the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz as they both conduct investigations into the investigators who ran the Trump-Russia investigation at the DOJ and FBI. Horowitz has been looking into possible Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse for more than a year.
Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he was looking into the origins of the investigation into the Trump campaign, into any criminal leaks from the FBI or Justice Department to the media, into the possibility that the “Steele dossier” — compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele — was Russian disinformation, and more.
Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Source: Washingtonexaminer: James Clapper backtracks: FBI’s actions meet ‘dictionary definition of spying’