Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is in no hurry to come to D.C. and answer questions regarding his role in the General Michael Flynn unmasking scandal. In an interview with CNN, Clapper made it perfectly clear that he will not travel to testify in person until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.
After he made the remarks, he was silent for a second or two, then he quickly added, “but I can testify remotely…” During the same interview, he also declared how “routine” it is to unmask Americans. Clapper responded that he “couldn’t recall what prompted him to unmask General Flynn.” How convenient. Given Clapper’s history of lying under oath, it’s unclear how much it matters to have him testify at all, frankly.
Clapper, who was Director of National Intelligence from 2010 to 2017, admitted giving “clearly erroneous” testimony to Congress about mass surveillance in March 2013. The under-oath fallacy was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who sparked national debate on surveillance policy with leaks to the press. Tw0 criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress have five-year statutes of limitations. Clapper managed to avoid being charged for those lies to Congress due to five years of inaction by the Justice Department—the statutory limitations expired in 2018.
Many members of Congress, mostly Republicans supportive of new limits on electronic surveillance, called for Clapper to be prosecuted as the deadline neared, saying unpunished perjury jeopardizes the ability of Congress to perform oversight. “He admitted to lying to Congress and was unremorseful and flippant about it,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told the Washington Examiner in 2018. “The integrity of our federal government is at stake because his behavior sets the standard for the entire intelligence community,” Massie stated.
Clapper, who in retirement has emerged as a leading critic of President Trump, continues to behave as if he is both above reproach and the law. Considering the Department of Justice allowed him to escape unscathed from his fabricated 2013 congressional testimony, it’s no wonder why he feels empowered to feel exactly that. If you’re a Trump ally, however, you’ll likely get a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call from the FBI and CNN for lesser things.