Most of President Trump’s actions since taking office have been, in his word, “unpresidented,” leaving political observers at a loss for words. When assessing the Russia scandal, most tend to reach for one parallel: Watergate. But today, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went one further — he says the situation is worse.
“I lived through Watergate. I was on active duty then in the Air Force, I was a young officer — it was a scary time,” Clapper told Australia’s Press Club. “I have to say, though, I think if you compare the two, Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.”
Clapper served as director of national intelligence under President Obama, until Trump took office in January. In tweets earlier this year, Trump likened American intelligence agencies to Nazis.
Clapper went on to describe America sharing intelligence with Vladimir Putin as “very problematic” and referred to Trump’s decision to fire FBI boss James Comey as “egregious and inexcusable.” He excoriated Trump’s sharing of classified intelligence with Russian officials during an Oval Office visit last month, calling it a “complete disregard for the independence and independency and autonomy” of the FBI, which reflected “either ignorance or disrespect.”
Tomorrow, former FBI Director James Comey will testify before Congress, following press reports that Trump pressured Comey to back off the Russia investigation, that Comey kept detailed memos of their interactions, and that Comey felt uncomfortable being left alone with the president.
In his remarks before the Press Club, Clapper called Comey “a personal friend and a personal hero of mine.”
Comey’s testimony will be covered live by all three TV networks, and commentators have described it as the most anticipated public testimony since Watergate.