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Clapper on NYT Trump Spying Report: ‘Yeah, I Guess It Meets the Dictionary Definition of Spying’

‘—A term I don’t particularly like’

TRANSCRIPT:

BLITZER: “The president today praised ‘The New York Times’ for a front-page story, as he notes, that there was an undercover FBI investigator who met with a Trump campaign official, George Papadopoulos. The president views this as spying. The attorney general says this is being looked at. Do you think the Justice Department inspector general will find anything inappropriate on the part of the FBI or the U.S. intelligence community as far as this is concerned?” 

CLAPPER: “Well, I don’t know. But I will say that using undercover agents is a standard and legitimate technique that is widely used in investigations. That technique has been used to thwart a lot of counterterrorism plots in this country. So, I’m sure — I mean, there are protocols and standards for using an agent. And I’m sure that’s the case here.” 

BLITZER: “So you’re saying this was not done lightly.”

CLAPPER: “No, it’s never done lightly. And I’m sure it wasn’t here either.”

BLITZER: “Was it spying?” 

CLAPPER: “Well, yes, I guess it meets the dictionary definition of surveillance or spying, a term I don’t particularly like. It’s not a term of art used by intelligence people. It has a negative connotation of a rogue operation, out of control, not in compliance with the law. And that’s not the case at all.” 

BLITZER: “General Clapper, thanks so much for coming in.” 

CLAPPER: “Thanks, Wolf.”

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