Tag Archives: James Clapper

‘Speaking truth to power’

When historians start chronicling the events surrounding Donald J. Trump’s time as president of the United States, they will face an enormous challenge in trying to find an answer to this question: How in the world did this man manage to get elected to the nation’s highest office?

An article about a former director national intelligence reminds me of what has perplexed, angered and outraged millions of Americans since the November 2016 presidential election.

James Clapper has written a memoir that tells of how his post public service life took a dramatic turn when Trump won that election. Clapper wanted to retire quietly and “clean out my basement.” He has remained in the public eye while becoming a ferocious critic of the president.

He considers Trump a threat to national security. The president has embraced Russia, the nation that — in Clapper’s view — meddled in our electoral process and well might have produced a Trump victory. As Clapper told Wired: As Clapper writes, in explaining his decision to write a memoir, Trump’s embrace of Russia “made me fear for our nation.”

Trump doesn’t speak the truth. He cannot tell the truth. His aim is to twist facts to enrich his own standing. He thinks first of himself and then, if he thinks at all about the nation, he gives a cursory nod to the well-being of others. That’s according to Clapper.

Is the former DNI perfect? Has he always been totally truthful himself? He acknowledges misspeaking during a Senate hearing in 2013. Wired reports: He duly addresses his much-criticized and picked-over comment in a 2013 hearing where he appeared to mislead Senator Ron Wyden about whether the NSA gathered call details on American citizens. He later said that he misunderstood which program Wyden was asking about and that he couldn’t later correct the record because of the demands for secrecy.

No one is perfect, right?

Still, I give a retired Air Force general — and a veteran of intelligence work at the highest levels — a fair amount of credence when he speaks of the shortcomings he sees in the president of the United States.

Again, from Wired: The truth, Clapper argues time and again, is critical. “I don’t believe our democracy can long function on lies,” he writes. “I believe we have to continue speaking truth to power, even—or especially—if the person in power doesn’t want to hear the truth we have to tell him.”

Read the Wired piece here.

Presidential historians will have their hands full, indeed.

It’s the intent that matters

James Clapper is the expert on national security and matters relating to deep-cover operations.

I am not.

Still, I want to take issue with an assertion that the former director of national intelligence has said about the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Clapper has said the Russians actually tilted the election in Donald John Trump’s favor; he said their attack on our electoral process was decisive that Trump essentially is an illegitimate president.

I have trouble buying into that assumption.

Clapper says the Russians targeted three states that Trump won over Hillary Clinton: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump won those states by a grand total of 77,000 votes; their electoral vote count put him over the top and, thus, he was elected president.

My own view — albeit from afar — is that Clinton’s last-minute strategy backfired. She didn’t visit Wisconsin after being nominated by the Democrats. She paid only cursory attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Having said that, I want to make an assertion of my own, which is that the Russians’ intention to swing the election toward Trump is grievous enough on its own.

Clapper is far from alone in his belief that the Russians actually meddled, that they attacked our electoral system. Every national security chieftain on board now or who was aboard during the 2016 election have said the same thing. Even the president’s own team has acknowledged as much; and I include the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director when he told a congressional committee that he had no doubt the Russians meddled.

Trump’s response has been shameful in its negligence. He continues to spread the blame around to others who “might” have interfered. He fails to acknowledge publicly that Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin was involved, which is another assertion that the intelligence committee has made.

James Clapper, a retired Air Force general, is an intelligence professional. He brings strong credibility to any argument about the integrity of the 2016 election. I am just unwilling to buy totally into the idea that Russian meddling actually turned the tide in Trump’s favor.

What matters as much — if not more — is that they intended to sow discord and mistrust in our electoral process.

The Russians have succeeded.

If only the president would acknowledge it, too.

‘Lying machine’? Really, Mr. POTUS?

A friend and former boss of mine used to be fond of ridiculing statements that come out of the mouths of public officials.

Thus, the comment that Donald John Trump tossed at former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper  brings my good friend to mind.

Trump calls Clapper a “lying machine.”

To quote my friend: To hear Donald Trump call anyone a “lying machine” is like hearing Xaviera “The Happy Hooker” Hollander accuse someone of being a whore.

This individual is totally, utterly and categorically without shame.

No wiretapping at Trump Tower … who knew?

The U.S. Justice Department has issued arguably the least surprising revelation of the Trump administration.

It is that the former President Barack Obama did not order the wiretapping of Donald Trump’s campaign offices at Trump Tower in New York City in late 2016. OK, that’s not a surprise.

The announcement came in the form of a court motion issued Friday that declared that DOJ had no evidence of any such action.

What is heartening to me, though, is that this Department of Justice has made the determination. This one, which has as its head — Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who happens to be a close political ally of the president of the United States of America.

Yes, that would be the president who defamed his immediate predecessor by asserting that he ordered the wiretap in the first place.

Trump tweeted on March 4: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

He linked Barack Obama to the disgraced late Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the guy who gained infamy by accusing every Democrat and their brother of being communists during the 1950s.

Trump never produced a shred of evidence to back his cockamamie assertion about a wiretap. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he surely would have known about it had there been an order issued; it didn’t happen.

Former FBI Director James Comey — yeah, that James Comey — told Senate committee members that he saw nothing to back up the president’s assertions about a wiretap.

So, that case is closed, as if it ever really deserved to be opened at all. But when the president of the United States issues a phony accusation, then the nation and the world take notice.

What we all saw was yet another instance of bald-faced lying by the nation’s top elected official.


Now POTUS is using the third-person reference

In addition to disgusting me at virtually every level possible, the president of the United States is now employing an annoying personal habit that sends me into orbit.

Donald J. Trump tweeted this message today: James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress, is now an authority on Donald Trump. Will he show you his beautiful letter to me?

The president is referring to himself in the third person. Yes, it’s one of those verbal tics that suggests to me that the person who’s doing the talking seeks to place even greater importance on himself by making sure we know his name.

Personal note: I use the male pronoun because women — as a general rule — aren’t as inclined to use this third-person reference when discussing themselves.

So, Trump is challenging the veracity of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who said this week that he wonders about the president’s fitness for his job. Clapper said he is appalled at Trump’s behavior on the podium at that Phoenix campaign rally.

Frankly, I share Clapper’s assessment of Trump.

Now the president has entered the realm of supreme annoyance by using that third-person verbal reference the way high-profile athletes do. Grrr.

I’m tellin’ ya, it drives John Kanelis absolutely crazy.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Ex-DNI: Evidence of hacking points to Moscow

James Clapper has contradicted the president of the United States, who says “others” might have hacked into the U.S. electoral system along with the Russians.

Not so, says the former director of national intelligence. The Russians did it. There’s no evidence of any other nation getting involved.

I’ll go with ex-DNI Clapper on this one.

Clapper is clear: It’s the Russians

Donald J. Trump keeps trying to blanket Russian government goons in political cover by suggesting that other nations might be involved. He famously alluded to some 400-pound guy lying in bed somewhere who might be hacking into our electoral process.

The president keeps demonstrating this outrageous reluctance to drop the hammer on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the intelligence professionals — the folks who do that kind of work for a living — say something quite different.

I’m inclined to believe the career spooks’ assessment of what went down during the 2016 presidential election.

Are the wheels flying off Trump’s ‘fine-tuned machine’?

“A fine-tuned machine” does not experience the kind of malfunctions we are witnessing within Donald J. Trump’s administration.

For instance, it doesn’t produce an FBI director asking the Justice Department to dismiss an explosive allegation coming from the president of the United States against his immediate predecessor.

FBI Director James Comey wants the Justice Department to toss out Trump’s allegation — delivered this weekend in a tweet — that Barack Obama ordered spooks to wiretap Trump’s offices in Trump Tower.

Why would they do such a thing, which they have denied doing? It would be to look for evidence that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russian officials to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

Trump calls it a “fact” that such a thing occurred. Comey, in an apparent act of open rebellion against the president, says, um, no it isn’t. It didn’t happen. At this moment, DOJ officials haven’t done as Comey has asked.

Ladies and gents, we are witnessing perhaps the first shots of open warfare within the Trump administration. It might be Trump v. Comey in this fight.

Ex-DNI denies wiretap allegation.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on “Meet the Press” this morning that any such order to wiretap Trump’s office would have had to come from a federal judge, who would have determined probable cause to issue such an order. The DNI, said Clapper, would be made aware of it.

Clapper said it never occurred during his time as DNI.

Comey has taken up Clapper’s side in this fight.

The “fine-tuned machine” — which is how the president described his administration during that infamous press conference a couple of weeks ago — appears set to explode in flames.

What happens now? The president might fire Comey. What do you suppose would be the public reaction to such an event?

The president, moreover, is reportedly furious at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from an investigation into Russia’s alleged effort to influence the presidential election.

Does that sound to you like a “fine-tuned machine” that is humming along on all cylinders? Me neither.

My … goodness.


Comey’s request of the DOJ to drop this wiretap nonsense is fascinating at another level as well. The FBI director heaved that political grenade into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign 11 days before Election Day informing her of a letter he had sent to Congress asking for a re-examination of that e-mail controversy that dogged her all along the way.

Clinton blames that letter for stopping her momentum and for giving Trump the ammo he needed to blast her presidential campaign to smithereens.

Now he turns on the individual he supposedly helped get elected?

Lock ‘n load!

‘No. 1 geopolitical threat’ cheers Trump victory

Let’s see how this has gone.

Four years ago, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Russia had emerged as the nation’s “No. 1 geopolitical threat.” Liberals scoffed at Mitt; I was one of them. What do you mean, Gov. Romney? Those Russians don’t pose any serious threat to the world’s most exceptional nation.

Then in 2016, Russians are now known to be cheering the election of the latest GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump.

CIA intercepts have captured information revealing that our former top geopolitical foe was acting mighty happy at the prospect of Trump would become president of the United States.


Senior Russian officials were simply thrilled that Americans had elected someone friendly to their world view.

What gives here? Are they are our friends or foes?

Oh, wait! The president-elect has dismissed allegations that the Russians hacked our election system; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (pictured) has “no doubt” the Russians did as they have accused of doing. Trump has nominated ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state; Tillerson has a close personal and professional relationship with Russian President (and former KGB boss) Vladimir Putin, who once awarded Tillerson the Medal of Friendship.

This is just me, but I wouldn’t trust this so-called “friend” as far as I can throw him.