Ex-intel chief James Clapper: Suspicious packages threat ‘not going to silence’ Trump critics

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the threat posed by the dozen of suspicious packages sent to top Democrats and President Donald Trump’s critics, including him, is not going to prevent them from speaking out against the Trump administration.

“I do want to just echo one thing that (former CIA Director) John Brennan said and that this is not going to silence the administration’s critics,” Clapper said during a phone interview on Friday with CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto.

The former intelligence chief told CNN he believes the 12 suspicious packages are “definitely domestic terrorism, no question in my mind.”

Clapper warned that anyone who has in any way “publicly been a critic of President Trump, needs to be on an extra alert and take some precautions, particularly with respect to mail.”

But he added later, “We can’t stop our lives. We have to go on.”

Friday morning, a law enforcement official told CNN a suspicious package was found at a New York City postal facility addressed to CNN and Clapper, a CNN contributor. The package was similar to the others that have been sent to Brennan, President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others this week, the official added.

Clapper said he was “in some sense relieved” the package was discovered because he’s out of town, but he’s been concerned for his neighbors who have been retrieving his mail.

Federal authorities arrested a man Friday morning in connection to the suspected explosive packages discovered this week, multiple law enforcement sources told CNN.

Brennan and Clapper both served in the intelligence community for the Obama administration and since leaving office have been outspoken critics of Trump.

Clapper said that the President first “sounded the right note” in his initial statement at the White House on Wednesday.

“I think it would have been a lot more appropriate, a lot more sincere, had he actually named the targets and said something reassuring to them.” Clapper told CNN, adding that Trump “bears some responsibility for the coarseness and uncivility of the dialogue in this country.”