Trump and Clapper Used to Be on the Same Side

President lashes out at former director of national intelligence after he questions Trump’s fitness for office

President Donald Trump used to share the same opinion on data collection as former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump lashed out at former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday for lying under oath, but they once shared similar views on what Clapper misled Congress about.


After the president’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, Clapper told CNN he questioned Trump’s fitness for the White House.


In turn Trump lashed out on Twitter against Clapper, sarcastically calling him “an authority on Donald Trump.” 

Trump also brought up the fact Clapper “famously got caught lying to Congress.” 


But the reason why Clapper was found to be misleading Congress was on a subject that Trump supported.


In March of 2013, Clapper was asked by Sen. Ron Wyden during a hearing whether the National Security Agency collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”


Clapper responded, "No, sir," but when pressed, said “Not wittingly.” 


By June 2013, the Guardian and the Washington Post began revealing in a series of stories how the NSA was collecting metadata and phone records from millions of Americans. 


The information was revealed by Edward Snowden, who worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.


But for many years, like much of his views, Trump’s beliefs about domestic surveillance were mixed when he shared them on Twitter. 


Trump seemed to be vocally critical of domestic surveillance programs as a means to criticize then-President Barack Obama.


Trump also used domestic surveillance as a means to bring up one of his favorite conspiracies, Obama’s birth certificate, tweeting, “Isn’t it amazing that the U.S. and NSA can listen to the highly protected phone conversations of world leaders but can’t get O's records!”


But when it comes to Snowden, Trump lobbed visceral criticism of the leaker.


When one of his followers explained to Trump that Snowden was not a traitor, but revealed important information about “NSA snooping,” Trump replied simply with “Bulls--t.”


In July of 2013 Trump also tweeted that Snowden should “come back home and face justice” and called him “just another wiseguy traitor.”

In 2014, Trump said that in the past, Snowden’s leaks would have led him to be executed.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.