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Clapper: Trump distorting my comments is Orwellian

The Hill logo The Hill 5/25/2018 Jacqueline Thomsen
James R. Clapper wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper hit back at President Trump for erroneously claiming that Clapper admitted that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.

Clapper told Axios that Trump's most recent tweet making the allegation shows that Trump "deliberately spun" his comments.

The former intelligence director had said that the FBI had sought to determine what Russian figures were doing during the 2016 election, but did not spy on the Trump campaign.

"I mean this is George Orwell - up is down, black is white, peace is war. That's exactly what I didn't say," Clapper told Axios.

"I took aversion to the word spy, it was the most benign version of information gathering. The important thing is the whole reason the FBI was doing this was concern over what the Russians were doing to infiltrate the campaign, not spying on the campaign,"

"Of course, he turned that completely upside-down in his tweet, as he is wont to do," Clapper added.

Trump had tweeted earlier Thursday that Clapper had "admitted" to the FBI spying on his campaign.

"They were spying on, a term I don't particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence - which is what they do," Clapper said Wednesday on "The View."

The president has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the Obama administration embedded a spy in his campaign to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election.

Trump demanded over the weekend that the Department of Justice investigate the matter.

The DOJ reached an agreement with the president on Monday to allow the department's inspector general to investigate allegations of FBI wrongdoing in the Russia probe.

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