Washington (CNN)Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Sunday that he thinks US institutions are under assault from President Donald Trump.
“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 anchor Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Pressed if he meant US institutions were under assault internally from the President, Clapper responded, “Exactly.”
Clapper called on the other branches of the federal government to step up in their roles as a check on the executive.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) May 14, 2017
“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.”
Democrats and several Republicans in Congress have publicly mulled pressing the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor or establishing an independent investigative body that could look into allegations of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in what the US intelligence community says was Moscow’s efforts to influence the US election.
The Senate must confirm a new FBI director once Trump names a candidate; that FBI director will take a lead role in the Russia investigation.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee advocated on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump appoint Judge Merrick Garland to head the FBI. Josh Holmes, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said later on the program that the Republican leader had just called him to say he would support Garland for FBI’s top spot.