Tags: Cyber Security | Donald Trump | NSA/Surveillance | Russia | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | James Clapper

James Clapper: Russia 'Prepping the Battlefield' With More Spies in US

CNN's "The Situation Room"

By    |   Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 07:55 PM

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that Russia was seeking to "prep the battlefield" for the 2018 and 2020 elections amid suspicions intelligence officials are seeing more spies entering the U.S.

"This certainly fits the standard Russian pattern, which comports with their behavior going back decades," Clapper, who served under former President Barack Obama, told CNN's Jim Sciutto.

"They want to I'm sure repair the loss by virtue of the 35 operatives that were expelled by the Obama administration.

"They are going to stretch the envelope as far as they can and collect information.

"I think, largely, if I can use the military phrase, prep the battlefield for 2018 elections," Clapper said.

CNN reported Thursday that Russia was increasing spy efforts in the United States, emboldened by the lack of strong action by the Obama and Trump administrations.

In December, Obama signed an executive order that expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds in the U.S. in response to its meddling in last year's election.

The Washington Post reported last month Obama's efforts resulted from months of internal wrangling by the administration after the former president had received strong intelligence proof of Kremlin involvement in the election.

The Post described Obama's response as "modest."

"They are here to collect as much as they possibly can on the United States, who they consider as their primary enemy," Clapper said Thursday.

Turning to Friday's meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Clapper said Trump's attacks on the intelligence community in Hamburg Thursday gave the Kremlin leader "reassurance and encourages them to keep doing what he is doing.

"As long as we don't push back against the Russians and take the necessary measures to foreclose, they are going to continue."

On North Korea, Clapper emphasized "the only option is diplomacy" in dealing with dictator Kim Jong Un.

"If we did some military action against North Korea, they would reflexively do what they vowed on more than one occasion, which is to change Seoul into a sea of fire," Clapper said.

"It would be a dreadful, reckless thing for us to do that."

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Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that Russia was seeking to "prep the battlefield" for the 2018 and 2020 elections amid suspicions that intelligence officials are seeing more spies entering the U.S.
James Clapper, spies, elections, meddling
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2017-55-06
Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 07:55 PM
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