In his new book, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, says “of course” Russian activity swung the election to Donald Trump. The left is treating this speculation, almost certainly driven by animus towards President Trump, as immensely important. For example, Rachel Maddow said, ahead of her interview with Clapper: “The immediate past director of national intelligence, who was director of national intelligence during the Russian attack on the election says he has ‘no doubt’ the Russian attack ‘swung the election to a Trump win.” (Emphasis added)
But Clapper and Maddow are being disingenuous. How do I know? Because of this exchange between Clapper and Sen. Tom Cotton on January 6, 2017:
Sen. Cotton: Director Clapper, you said to Senator McCain earlier “the intelligence community cannot gauge the impact” on the election [of Russian activity]. Is that because that kind of electoral analysis is not a task that’s within the traditional responsibility and skill sets of the intelligence services?
Clapper: That’s correct.
Sen. Cotton: That’s something that’s more suited for someone like Sean Trende or Michael Barone or Nate Silver — election analysts that have written extensively on the election.
Clapper: Well, it certainly isn’t within the purview of the intelligence community.
Thus, Clapper admitted that the intelligence services he oversaw are in no position to assess the impact of Russian activity on the 2016 election. It’s not something they do and it’s not something they have the skills required to do.
Yet now, Clapper does exactly what he says he lacks the training and skills to do — he asserts, with certainty, that Russian activity swung the election to Trump. And Rachel Maddow, doing exactly what Clapper wants, trumpets this assessment as coming from “the director of national intelligence during the Russian attack on the election.”
Clapper and Maddow want us to give special weight to Clapper’s assessment because of the position he once held. But Clapper once conceded that people in this position “cannot gauge” that which Clapper now purports to gauge.
In short, cracker barrel speculation entitled to no weight is masquerading as akin to intelligence. And for purely partisan purposes.