Terror groups like ISIS or al-Qaida could launch strikes within the U.S. to affect the presidential election this November, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Newsmax Monday morning.
Clapper, the top official in the U.S. intelligence community, would not say whether the terrorist groups preferred or opposed any particular candidate.
But, in an obvious reference to the Republican front-runner Donald Trump, he said he was struck by “how simple things are on the campaign trail and how those same issues are very hard in the confines of the [White House] Situation Room.”
At a Washington, D.C., press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Newsmax asked Clapper if he felt ISIS or al-Qaida was targeting the U.S. before the election with the possibility of influencing the outcome.
“Whether or not they might do something that might have a bearing on the election, well, they could — particularly if they do something in this country,” he replied.
“It would probably have some impact. It’s kind of an imponderable but it could certainly influence how people vote in this election.”
As to whether the terrorist groups might prefer Trump to help rally jihadists, Clapper said: “I cannot point to any evidence that would indicate a preference on the part of ISIS as to who is elected in our presidential election.”
Clapper said he was concerned about some of the rhetoric in this year’s presidential campaign, however.
“Certainly you worry about rhetoric on the campaign trail,” he said. “I think the history has been that once a president is inaugurated and is in office and realizes the burden and the responsibilities of the position, I think that has a tempering effect on anyone. I think it will here regardless of who’s elected.”