James Clapper is sitting back in the comfort of his position as a former director of National Intelligence and making some observations.
In particular, what he sees happening between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is a much more savvy, decidedly more dangerous ex-KGB agent playing the slow witted, reality TV/cultural joke huckster like a fiddle.
Ok. He didn’t say it like that.
What he said, specifically, is that Putin knows how to handle an “asset,” and that’s how he’s playing Trump.
“I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president,” Clapper told CNN, referring to how Putin publicly thanked Trump after a CIA tip-off thwarted a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.
And Trump was right to share that information, given the potentially tragic alternative.
Of course, Clapper pointed out that he was using the term, “asset” figuratively.
“You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets,” Clapper continued. “And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”
“Asset” is a term within the intelligence community to describe a person who siphons information on an organization or country to an outside spy.
So is there a way Trump could have shared critical information with Putin, without Putin turning it around in a way that raised the eyebrows of veteran intelligence guys like Clapper?
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: Vladimir Putin "knows how to handle an asset and that's what he's doing with the President" https://t.co/1bOnWU9hVI
— CNN (@CNN) December 18, 2017
Possibly, but the real concern is that this won’t be the last time. Trump is simple and easily figured out. A little praise will get you the keys to the kingdom with Trump, and by publicly thanking him, Putin knew exactly what kind of access he was buying.