Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) of refusing to speak out against Russian interference in the 2016 election because the attacks were beneficial to then-candidate Donald Trump.
Clapper, who served as former President Barack Obama’s senior intelligence adviser for six years, wrote in his new book that McConnell and Ryan refused to sign a joint statement with the Obama administration condemning the foreign meddling taking place during the election.
“House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president,” Clapper writes. “I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn’t care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won.”
At that point, the Republican party had been relentlessly opposing anything to do with Obama for eight years. As former Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said of that time, “If he was for it, we had to be against it.”
A spokesperson for Ryan and McConnell denied Clapper’s claims.
“Mr. Clapper has his facts wrong,” the spokesperson said. “What was discussed with the White House staff in September was a letter to the states warning against attacks during the election, which was quickly drafted and sent on September 28th.”
The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee cleared Trump’s campaign of any collusion with Russia in a heavily redacted 243-page report that their Democratic colleagues described as hastily written and incomplete. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into said collusion is still ongoing.
While the House Intelligence Committee’s report on the 2016 election did acknowledge that Russian interference in the 2016 election happened, Trump has largely framed it as a lie invented by the media, and his administration’s approach to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been overwhelmingly admiring and subservient.
Nathan Wellman is a Grit Post contributing editor in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW. You can also email him at info AT gritpost DOT com.