Former Director of National Intelligence says American institutions are 'under assault' under Trump

James Clapper on CNNScreenshot/CNNFormer Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN on Sunday that he believes American institutions are under assault —  both from external forces, chief among them the Russian government, and internal forces, namely President Donald Trump. 

Clapper, a former Air Force general and 53-year veteran of the intelligence community, condemned Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey in the midst of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, calling it “very disturbing.”  

“I think in many ways our institutions are under assault both 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,” Clapper told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

When Tapper asked whether by “internally,” he meant by the president, Clapper responded, “Exactly.” 

He argued that Comey’s removal is an assault on a system of checks and balances that is core to American democracy. 

“The founding fathers, in their genius, created a system of three co-equal branches of government and a built-in system of checks and balances,” Clapper said. “I feel as though that is under assault and is eroding.”

When Tapper asked if Clapper was surprised at the lack of pushback from Republican lawmakers, Clapper said he couldn’t call himself surprised and added, “I hope they will speak up.”

Watch the clip here: 


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