Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Wednesday said he had no knowledge of a FISA warrant against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, despite new reports indicating such a warrant was issued during his time in office.
Clapper was speaking with CNN’s Don Lemon when he was asked to react to CNN’s reporting that investigators obtained a court order to wiretap Manafort before and after the 2016 election.
“Well, I can't comment on a specific FISA order,” Clapper told Lemon. “I said some things about this on 'Meet the Press' on the 5th of March, and I stand on that statement.”
Some Trump boosters have argued that reports investigators obtained a FISA warrant against Manafort vindicate Trump’s unsubstantiated claim former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the election. They’ve also pointed to Clapper’s “Meet the Press” interview as proof the former director of national intelligence lied.
In that March 5 exchange, Clapper stated, unequivocally, ”there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, president-elect, candidate or campaign."
“I can deny it,” Clapper said when pressed by NBC host Chuck Todd, restating that, to his knowledge, there was no FISA court order of anything at Trump Tower.
Wednesday, Clapper doubled down on his denial.
“I stand on that statement that you just replayed and I cannot comment on the media reporting—which is all we have—about a FISA warrant allegedly lodged against Mr. Manafort,” Clapper told Lemon. “I can't comment on that, I will simply reiterate what I said in March, and I stand on that.”
Asked about the president’s wiretapping claim, Clapper repeated, “I stand on what I said on the 5th of March on ‘Meet the Press,’ as you just replayed it.”
“Did you know about a FISA warrant against Paul Manafort at the time?” Lemon asked
“I did not,” Clapper said.
“I have to say that what we have is media reporting only,” the former director of national intelligence continued. “And actually, commenting on--FISAs are classified and so, you know, even if I knew something about it, I couldn't, and I don't. And again, I will just conclude by saying I stand on what I said on the 5th of March.”
Lemon later asked if Trump’s own Justice Department would know about a FISA warrant on Trump Tower.
“Yes, absolutely,” Clapper said. "And I believe Director [James] Comey said much the same thing in his testimony on March 16th.”
“So the president's own Justice Department came to the conclusion after investigating that there was no wiretapping of Trump Tower?” Lemon asked, referring to the DOJ’s September court filing that concluded there's no evidence to substantiate the president's claim.
“That’s that’s what I draw from that, yes,” Clapper replied.
Watch the interview below, via CNN: