Clapper, alongside former CIA chief John Brennan, appeared before an audience at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. The discussion, which multiple news outlets described as wide-ranging, included some sobering criticisms of the president for downplaying Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Clapper was asked by moderator and CNN host Wolf Blitzer if he thought the president was taking Russia’s interference seriously enough, to which Clapper responded with a play on the Trump administration’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“Sometimes I think he’s about making Russia great again,” he said.
Clapper and Brennan also criticized the president for doubting the intelligence community’s findings about Russia meddling in the 2016 election, calling such comments “disgraceful.”
They also called out Donald Trump Jr., former campaign chief Paul Manafort and the president’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, for attending a June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton obtained by the Russian government.
Clapper said he believed Kushner should have his security clearance at least suspended pending further investigation. Brennan called the decision to meet “profoundly baffling.”
Clapper, whose term concluded on Jan. 20, testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about Russia’s meddling in May, when he called the matter “critically serious.” He clearly outlined the findings of the intelligence community, which he said concluded “first that President Putin directed and influenced a campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump.”