As the public learns more about the investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, politicians and media figures have begun to liken the scandal to Watergate. But former National Intelligence Director James Clapper took the comparison a step further.
“I lived through Watergate,” he said. “It was a scary time.... I have to say, though, I think you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.”
Clapper was addressing Australia’s National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday local time.
The former spy chief has been critical of Trump in the past, hitting back at the commander in chief’s claim that former President Barack Obama’s administration spied on his campaign. Trump has been unable to provide any proof that such surveillance occurred.
Clapper also took issue with Trump’s attacks on U.S. intelligence agencies, calling the president’s decision to fire FBI director James Comey “egregious and inexcusable.”
“I am very concerned about the assault on our institutions coming from both an external source ― read Russia ― and an internal source, the President himself,” Clapper said, according to a transcript of his speech. “Russia embarked on a campaign to interfere with our presidential election which was unprecedented in its directness and aggressiveness.”