Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday said it “certainly appears” that Donald Trump Jr.’s email seeking damaging information on Hillary Clinton from an emissary of the Russian government meets the threshold of collusion.
Trump Jr. released the emails on Twitter after learning the the New York Times was in possession of a copy of the exchange. In that communication—cc’d to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner—Trump Jr. expresses a willingness to accept information from Russia that could damage Clinton’s campaign.
“I'll leave it to the special counsel to determine whether the legal threshold of collusion was breached, but from this layman's point of view, it certainly appears that way to me,” Clapper said, according to the Cipher Brief.
Clapper said the emails are “only one anecdote in a much larger story,” noting the exchange occurred “before the campaigns heated up, and the Russians became steadily more aggressive with their campaign to interfere in the election.”
“I can't believe that this one exchange represents all there is, either involving the President's son or others associated with the campaign,” Clapper told the Cipher Brief.
Clapper added that Trump Jr.’s exchange “certainly comports with [the Russians’] traditional tradecraft practices,” adding the Kremlin “sought to gain leverage and influence anyway they could.”