Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Thursday called President Donald Trump's executive order affecting travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations "a recruiting tool for the extremists," including the Islamic State.
"I do worry the countries in question with whom we do deal and who are reliable partners, and I also worry about this creating a recruiting tool for the extremists," Clapper told Jim Sciutto on CNN.
"That they will point to this proof that there is a war on all Muslims and they are very astute, particularly ISIL, at exploiting for recruitment purposes."
The comments marked Clapper's first public remarks since stepping down last month as DNI under President Barack Obama. He is a retired Air Force lieutenant general.
Trump's Jan. 27 executive order temporarily banned people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya from entering the United States until stronger vetting procedures could be implemented.
Clapper acknowledged to Sciutto that the current vetting process was not "perfect" — but that it was strong enough to protect the United States without Trump's order.
"We were using some very rigorous vetting processes to check people, validate the people were who they claim to be," he said. "We have improved that process as we've gone along."
He added that intelligence officials were currently not "aware of any extraordinary threats that we weren't already dealing with."
In addition, Clapper said that last month's decision to brief both Trump and Obama on a dossier alleging the Russia and unverified compromising information on the incoming president was in part because the accusations had been public for some time.
"We thought it was important that he know about it," Clapper said of Trump. "That was the main point.
"Not to comment on the veracity" of the information.
Trump then slammed the intelligence community about the document — comparing it to Nazi Germany — and Clapper said he then called Trump.
"I felt obliged to call the president-elect and appeal to his higher instincts, and to make sure he understood what our ... motives were," he said.
The intelligence community's objective was to give "support to the commander-in-chief, and to keep him as informed as possible, particularly if it involved some jeopardy to him."
He described Trump's demeanor as "very affable and solicitous" in the call, characterizing the conversation as a "success" — noting that it was a "constructive engagement."
In addition, Clapper said Russia posed a continued threat to the United States.
"I'm sure they've continued" with the hacking, even after intelligence agencies released a report detailing their alleged breaches, he told Sciutto.
"I think it's in their DNA, whether during the Soviet Era or now."
Clapper also "wouldn't put it past" Russia in trying to interfere in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
"If they thought it would be to their advantage to influence a national election or a congressional election, they would," he said.
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