Former national intelligence director James Clapper has continued to sound the alarm about the Putin-led Russian government’s espionage and disinformation campaigns against the United States. Nothing the Trump team has done to date has allayed those fears.
Far from being the “witch hunt” Trump has repeatedly called it, the investigation of whether Trump’s team colluded with Russia constitutes a “cloud not only over the president, but the office of the presidency, the administration, the government and the country” until it is resolved, Clapper told me in an extensive new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs.
With the indictment of the Trump campaign’s own campaign manager, that cloud has grown exponentially.
Within the normally taciturn intelligence community, Clapper’s repeated public warnings amount to “hair-on-fire” declarations. The Russian operations “have undermined our democratic system,” Clapper says.
In our interview, I asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin now believes he is winning in his campaign against the United States.
“Why wouldn’t he?” Clapper responded. “I mean, the Russians succeeded, I believe, beyond their wildest expectations. Their first objective in the election was to sow discontent, discord and disruption in our political life, and they have succeeded to a fare-thee-well. They have accelerated, amplified the polarization and the divisiveness in this country, and they’ve undermined our democratic system. They wanted to create doubt in the minds of the public about our government and about our system, and they succeeded to a fare-thee-well.”
Again, Clapper warned flatly that the Putin government “will continue to do this.” As they can be expected to do, given the apparent complete indifference to those acts by top Republican elected officials currently leveraging Putin’s operations into efforts to themselves reshape American government to their liking.