In response to the news, US President Donald Trump recently called on the US Justice Department to launch an investigation into the newly surfaced claims. Following Trump's formal request, the DOJ issued its own request to its internal watchdog to determine whether rules or laws were broken by its probe of the campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported. However, on Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the FBI never spied on Trump.
"They were not. They were spying — a term I don't particularly like — on what the Russians were doing," Clapper said on ABC's "The View."
"The important thing was not to spy on the campaign, but rather to determine what the Russians were up to. Were they trying to penetrate to campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence, and that was the concern that the FBI had. I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system," Clapper said, adding that "the objective here was actually to protect the campaign by determining whether the Russians were infiltrating it and attempting to exert influence."
Jim Kavanagh, editor of ThePolemicist.net and Alexander Mercouris, editor-in-chief of The Duran told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear that Clapper's claims are simply not credible, given his previous rhetoric about the Trump administration.
"It's not clear what Stefan Halper was doing and how closely he was involved in the Trump campaign," Kavanagh told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
The informant, who is reportedly a US professor teaching at the UK's Cambridge University, contacted several members of the campaign, including former aides Page and Papadopoulos, as well as former Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Page and Papadopoulos were both foreign policy advisers to Trump during his 2016 campaign.
"Apparently he had a number of meetings with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos," Kavanagh noted.
"What Clapper claimed in that interview is that the FBI was not spying on Trump, but were instead trying to figure out what the Russians were doing. However, if the FBI was really trying to find out what the Russians were doing, they could have asked people in the Trump campaign to help them. So, this is a very murky thing. It looks bad for the FBI and it's part of the campaign ‘dirty tricks' operations that have been going on for years. This is not something that's new in American politics and it's going to hurt the Russiagate enthusiasts," Kavanagh noted.
"Clapper really doesn't like Trump. Clearly, the intelligence apparatus liked Hillary Clinton. They thought she was going to be elected and so they thought they could act with impunity. The FBI is opening a whole can of worms about political corruption, financial corruption and lobbying," Kavanagh added.
In Clapper's new book, "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence," which was released Tuesday, he wrote, "Of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense and credulity to the breaking point. Less than 80,000 votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians."
Mercouris agreed with Kavanagh, adding that for Clapper to turn around and claim that they were trying to help the Trump campaign is simply not credible.
"If they really wanted to help the Trump campaign, they would have talked to Trump — and nothing like that was done. This is, of course, spying. If Americans care about their constitution and if they care about their democracy, they should be very worried about this," Mercouris told Radio Sputnik.
On Tuesday, ex-FBI chief James Comey, author of his own book denouncing the Trump administration he used to work for, insisted that it is essential for the agency to use informants in order to protect the US.
These new revelations are unraveling as US law enforcement leads a special counsel investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and purported ties between Moscow and Trump's campaign. Both Russian officials and the US president have denied the allegations.
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