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James Clapper: Watergate ‘pales’ in comparison to gravity of Trump-Russia scandal
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said the alleged scandal involving President Donald Trump and Russia is more significant than the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. (Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

James Clapper: Watergate ‘pales’ in comparison to gravity of Trump-Russia scandal

Former top U.S. intelligence official James Clapper said Wednesday that the Watergate scandal in the 1970s “pales” in comparison to the allegations that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian operatives during last year's presidential election.

Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence under former President Barack Obama, made the comments during a speech to Australia’s National Press Club in Canberra.

"I have to say though that I think, you compare the two, that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we're confronting now,” Clapper said.

In his speech, Clapper emphasized the importance of getting to the bottom of the alleged connection between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. So far, the FBI has only confirmed an active investigation into the allegations and has not presented publicly any evidence to suggest the allegations have any weight.

"As I have often said, it is absolutely crucial for the United States, and for that matter for the world, for this presidency, for the Republicans, for the Democrats, and for our nation at large, that we get to the bottom of this,” Clapper explained.

"Is there a smoking gun with all the smoke? And I don't know the answer to that,” he said.

Clapper also hit Trump for firing FBI Director James Comey last month, saying that it showed Trump’s "complete disregard” for the independent role the FBI plays in the U.S. government.

“The whole episode with the firing of Jim Comey, a distinguished public servant, apart from the egregious, inexcusable manner in which it was conducted, reflect complete disregard for the independence and autonomy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our premiere law enforcement organization,” Clapper said.

"I'm very interested to see what happens with Jim Comey's hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee and what he — I think it will be very significant to see both what he says and what he is asked about and doesn't respond to,” he said.

In addition, Clapper hit Trump for sharing intelligence with Russia earlier this year, calling the decision “problematic."

"His subsequent actions, sharing of sensitive intelligence with the Russians and compromising its source, reflect either ignorance or disrespect, and either is very problematic,” Clapper explained.

Trump was criticized last month after it was revealed that he had shared highly sensitive intelligence about an Islamic State plot with top Russian officials in the Oval Office. The intelligence had come from officials in Israel and was considered so sensitive that U.S. officials did not widely share it within the U.S. government or other state allies, according to The New York Times.

Still, the fact remains that little evidence has surfaced to suggest Trump’s campaign actively colluded with Russian officials to undermine last year’s presidential elections as many Democrats claim.

In fact, the FBI announced in October that, after a thorough investigation, they had found no evidence of collusion.

But Trump’s decision to fire Comey intensified the scrutiny surrounding potential Trump-Russia collusion, as Trump himself admitted that firing Comey would take some heat off of him. Subsequently, the Department of Justice announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller would lead the agency’s investigation of Trump.

Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

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Chris Enloe

Chris Enloe

Staff Writer

Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News
@chrisenloe →