Trump said Sally Yates and James Clapper started 'to choke like dogs' during their Senate testimony

Donald TrumpPool/Getty ImagesDonald Trump.

President Donald Trump described former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates as starting “to choke like dogs” during recent Senate testimony as a part of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The comments were made to Time reporters who joined him in watching recorded clips from the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Monday.

The clips Trump watched included a moment when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the head of the subcommittee, asked Clapper if he stood by a statement that he personally is not aware of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials to meddle in the election.

Clapper, who left the White House at the end of President Barack Obama’s term, said nothing had changed from his prior statement.

“Yes,” Trump said. “He was choking on that. … Is there any record at all of collusion? He was the head of the whole thing. He said no. That’s a big statement.”

Clapper would not be privy to much of the intelligence gathered after leaving office, and was not aware of the ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation into any potential collusion, which began in late July. Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, who was heading that investigation.

The next clip showed Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa asking both Clapper and Yates is they ever requested the names of anyone connected to Trump be “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

“Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump said lightheartedly. “Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath.”

After Clapper initially paused, Trump said, “Ah, he’s choking. Ah, look.”

He later called on the reporters to write more on his claims that the Obama administration “wiretapped” him — claims he still has provided no evidence to back up.

“So they surveilled me,” he said. “You guys don’t write that — wiretapped in quotes. They surveilled me.”

Claiming someone acted “like a dog” is a favourite rhetorical device for Trump. On Twitter, for instance, he has claimed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney “choked like a dog,” that “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd would be “fired like a dog,” and that actress Kristen Stewart “cheated on” actor Robert Pattinson “like a dog.”

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