Ex-DNI Clapper says redacted Mueller report ‘pretty devastating’

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “pretty devastating” on Thursday.

“The attorney general clearly is trying to paint as favorable a light on the Mueller report as possible, and when you read it, it’s pretty devastating,” Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Clapper said the redacted version of the findings from Mueller’s nearly two-year long investigation, released by the Justice Department on Thursday, laid out “in very rich detail, the magnitude and pervasiveness of the Russian interference in our election in 2016.”

He said those findings were “personally gratifying, because of the intelligence community assessment that we rendered on January 6 of 2017, briefed then President-elect Trump on, about the Russian interference.”

In January 2017, the US intelligence community concluded in a declassified report that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Last summer, standing next to Putin at a news conference, Trump issued a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community and declined to endorse the US government’s assessment, siding with Putin and saying he doesn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible.

“No one can say (the Russians) didn’t interfere, and, in fact, I think taint the election,” Clapper said Thursday.

Clapper said he hopes the American public will read the report.

“Collusion and obstruction aside, the big deal to me is the magnitude of the Russian interference,” said Clapper, who added he was “a bit disappointed” with how Attorney General William Barr has handled the process.

“My read of the Mueller report is that there’s a road map laid out there if the Congress chooses to follow it,” Clapper said, referring to the prospect of impeachment. “I think the decision is whether to do that in the face of Republican resistance or opposition in the Senate, which is where a conviction has to happen, or let this play out through the 2020 election.”