ThinkProgress

Clapper says Comey firing is a ‘victory’ for Russia

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, May 8, 2017, before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing: “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Just days ago, President Donald Trump was touting former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper’s testimony on Capitol Hill as proof there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But Clapper has spent the past few days disputing Trump’s interpretation of his statements, and expressing grave concerns over how Trump abruptly fired now-former FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening.

On ABC News’ This Week on Sunday morning, Clapper said that Russia’s “first objective” was to “sow doubt, discord, and dissension in this country” during the 2016 election.

“And what has unfolded now, the leader of the investigation about potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has been removed,” Clapper said. “The Russians have to consider this as another victory on the scoreboard for them.”

Later in the morning, in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, Clapper explained his belief that the foundations of our government, particularly our system of checks and balances, are being threatened by Trump’s actions.

“Well, I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me,” Clapper said. “I think in many ways, our institutions are under assault externally and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system. And I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

He also said that current FBI employees are on edge over Comey’s firing.

“I do know that it came as a great shock, it was very disturbing to FBI employees,” Clapper said. “I spoke to one last night at a dinner, that was quite upset about it and I think that reflects the feeling widespread in the FBI.”

Clapper, who resigned as DNI last November after serving for six and a half years, testified before the Senate alongside former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates earlier this week. He confirmed the validity a statement he made in March, when said that he hadn’t seen any evidence of Russia-Trump campaign collusion in the 2016 election.

However, Clapper has since stressed he was not saying there was no evidence, but only that he wasn’t aware of any, a big distinction the White House refuses to acknowledge.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll published on Sunday revealed that 78 percent of Americans support the appointment of an independent commission or a special prosecutor to investigate possible Russian interference in our election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Tapper on State of the Union that he supports efforts to block the nomination of a new FBI director until a special prosecutor is appointed to investigate the Russian interference. Several top senate Democrats floated the idea last week.

“The key here, of course, is getting some of our Republican colleagues to join us. We’re hoping. We’re waiting. We understand it’s difficult, but I think patriotism and the needs of this country demand it,” Schumer said.