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James Clapper: 'Watergate Pales' In Comparison To Trump Scandals

The former DNI chief spoke at the Australia Press Club this morning.

It's almost unheard of. The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, loaded up and fired at Donald Trump during a speech this morning at Australia's National Press Club. He was blunt, saying the situation was worse than Watergate:

"I have had a very hard time reconciling the threat the Russians pose to the United States—and, for that matter, western democracies in general—with the inexplicably solicitous stance the Trump administration (or at least, he himself as opposed to others in his administration) has taken with respect to Russia," he said..

He talked about the "internal assault on our institutions" and gave a conversation with Trump as an example. He said he tried to defend the intelligence community after Trump referred to them a "Nazis," and Trump responded by asking him to publicly refute the infamous Steele dossier.

"When I later learned that the first place he was going to visit after the Inauguration was CIA, I thought — again, naively — that perhaps I had gotten through to him. For the intelligence community (not just the CIA) the wall in the front lobby at CIA Headquarters is hallowed, with over 120 stars commemorating CIA officers who have paid the ultimate price. He chose to use that as a prop for railing about the size of the inauguration crowd on the Mall, and his battle with the “fake news” media. His subsequent actions — sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians, and, compromising its source reflect ignorance or disrespect — are likewise very problematic," he said.

"Similarly, the whole episode with the firing of Jim Comey a distinguished public servant. Apart from the egregious, inexcusable manner in which it was conducted, this episode reflected complete disregard for the independence and autonomy of the FBI, our premier law enforcement organization. (Again truth in advertising, Jim is a personal friend and personal hero of mine.)

"So, as I said, I worry about these assaults on our institutions."

It was during the Q&A after the speech that he made the Watergate comparison in response to a question.

“I think you compare the two, that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now.”

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