James Clapper made two appearances on #ResistanceTV CNN this week and the performances were pretty amazing in one regard. While everyone expects Clapper to lie and to bash Trump, the extent to which he began distancing himself from the Russia probe, especially in the way it has changed course in the past week, was stunning.

First, this is his appearance with Jake Tapper. After getting in his requisite whacks at Trump (btw, we may not have a “deep state” in the way the term is applied to places like Turkey, but to think we don’t have a uniquely American “deep state” that is partisan Democrat is to deny the events of the last year), Tapper moves Clapper along to the New York Times story that fingers George Papadopoulos as the cause of the Russia probe:

TAPPER: …And that, the New York Times says, is what prompted the investigation. Is it possible that something like that would have prompted an entire investigation?

CLAPPER: Well, it’s possible, but I…I don’t know the specifics here because because George Papadopoulos was not a name on my scope when I left, now, almost a year ago.

Body language is key here. Watch the expression of both men.

Clapper was back on CNN with Jim Sciutto and someone else (not disparagingly, I don’t watch CNN and don’t know who the other host is)

 


(I’m using Twitter’s Thread Reader to make reading this easier, just click it.)

I can’t find the extended interview but Clapper basically denies knowing anything about what was happening on the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, he denies seeing the Trump dossier before some time in late December, he denies that any one thing kicked off the investigation, and he, again, denies knowing anything about George Papadopoulos. Essentially, Clapper knows nothing.

I have no doubt this is generally the case but the operative phrase in this entire explanation is “standard procedure.” If you believe a multi-agency counterintelligence investigation of a presidential candidate that continued while he was president-elect was “standard procedure” then it makes sense. If you believe this was an extraordinary, first in the history of the republic event, then all you have is Clapper giving a non-answer.

I think Strassel is absolutely correct. Before the intelligence community went public with their accusation that the Russians tried to elect Trump, Clapper would have been briefed on every shred of evidence. Then a decision would have been made on what was releasable to the public. The idea that the FBI would hold back this Papadopoulos information, as it allegedly is what drove the investigation, from the DNI is simply bizarre.

Since October or so we’ve been told that the Trump dossier, the totally non-partisan and objective research carried out by an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, under contract to the Clinton campaign, was the catalyst for the Russia probe. Numerous stories in major national media have made that case. We’ve been told how the nexus of the dossier plus other intelligence led to the FBI obtaining a FISA warrant on Carter Page and, after the election, on Trump transition team member Paul Manafort. We were told that FBI counterintelligence guru Peter Strzok referred to the dossier as the “insurance policy.” We know that deputy assistant attorney general Bruce Ohr met with Fusion GPS found Glenn Simpson after the election to discuss the dossier. Then, suddenly, last weekend the New York Times tells us to forget all of that. What is really important is that George Papadopoulos, who was, oddly enough, indicted for lying to the FBI, had an alcohol-fueled discussion with an Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain, Alexander Downer. Sometime later, Downer related the conversation to Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey. Some two months after the event, Hockey allegedly contacted the FBI with the story. That story became, according to the NYT, the most closely held secret of the FBI. Where they were leaking willy-nilly on just about anything that could conceivably hurt Trump, they kept this story close hold.

I only reiterate this story to underline the things you have to believe and no longer believe to give credence to the Papadopoulos story and to give a reason for why James Clapper is suddenly acting like Sergeant Schultz.