For the last few days, Trump has been raving on and on about a supposed “spy” planted in his 2016 presidential campaign. Somewhere in the short life of this new conspiracy theory, the jealous oaf brought his predecessor Barack Obama into the conversation, accusing him and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the plant with the intention of derailing Trump’s campaign.
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On Tuesday morning, Clapper joined the women of The View, where he and co-host Joy Behar conversed about Trump’s spy allegations:
BEHAR: So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?
CLAPPER: No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”
BEHAR: Well, why doesn’t like that? He should be happy.
CLAPPER: He should be.
Since this exchange did not take place within the confines of the Fox News propaganda machine, Trump never saw it. Instead, he encountered headlines condensing the conversation into Clapper saying, “Trump should be happy the FBI was SPYING on his campaign,” a fake quote he tweeted out Wednesday morning.
“Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign” No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
This tweet was just one of several sent in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, also including attacks on the FBI albeit without mentioning Clapper directly.
As a result, Clapper has returned to the airwaves on PBS’s NewsHour to clear the air, explaining that the bureau used an informant to “determine what the Russians were up to.”
The intent "was not to spy on the campaign, but rather to determine what the Russians were up to," former DNI James Clapper tells @JudyWoodruff. "That was the concern that the FBI had, and I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system." pic.twitter.com/lPa9Rc9qb3
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) May 23, 2018
The fact that Trump landed in the crosshairs because of how his campaign operated is the fault of his intention to undermine the American political system, says Clapper:
“Were [the Russians] trying to penetrate the campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence? That was the concern the FBI had, and I think they were just doing their job in trying to protect out political system.”
The informant in question was eventually revealed as Stefan Halper, an American academic and former staffer in the Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush administrations. The role that he played has been called into question by Republicans who believe Trump’s narrative that Halper’s true goal was to gain sensitive information on Trump.
However, there is no evidence supporting Trump’s claim that Halper’s presence was for any reason other than national security in relation to Russia, as Clapper reiterated today.
Do Trump’s legions of loyal followers really believe that an entire political party could stage, from within the White House, an intricate coup of an underdog presidential campaign which failed only to install the underdog as president after all?
Yes, they do. And Trump knows that and he’s using it to convince his followers of his incredible power. This anti-FBI rhetoric must be monitored – and corrected – closely and often.