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Murphy writes: "The former US director of national intelligence James Clapper says events in Washington now are more serious than the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, and that it is imperative investigators get to the bottom of the Trump administration's links with the Putin regime."

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty)
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty)


James Clapper: Watergate 'Pales' in Comparison With Trump Russia Scandal

By Katharine Murphy, Guardian UK

07 June 17


Former US spy chief attacks the sharing of intelligence with Putin and says firing of James Comey ‘inexcusable’

he former US director of national intelligence James Clapper says events in Washington now are more serious than the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, and that it is imperative investigators get to the bottom of the Trump administration’s links with the Putin regime.

Clapper used a speech to Australia’s National Press Club on Wednesday to launch a critique of the US president, Donald Trump, describing his decision to cultivate Russia and share intelligence with the Putin regime as “very problematic”. He described Trump’s firing of the FBI chief Jim Comey as “egregious and inexcusable”.

The former intelligence director was asked how current events compared to Watergate and he said the behaviour under scrutiny now was more serious. “I think you compare the two, that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now.”

Clapper’s appearance in Canberra comes before highly anticipated testimony later this week by Comey before the Senate intelligence committee. The committee is examining whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials who interfered in the US presidential election.

Comey is expected to face questions about whether Trump tried to persuade him to stop an investigation into improper contacts between one of his top backroom advisers and Russian officials, and whether the former FBI director was sacked by the president because he refused to comply.

Clapper told the National Press Club in Canberra it was “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”.

“Is there a smoking gun with all the smoke? I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s vital, though, we find that out.”

Clapper insisted that, whatever Trump’s intentions, there was no way the US and Russia could be allies, because Russia was “opposed to our democracy and values and see us, particularly the United States, as the cause of all their problems and frustrations”.

He said he had a “real hard time reconciling the threat the Russians pose to the United States and, by extension, western democracies in general” with the solicitousness of the Trump administration towards Moscow. “The Russians are not our friends,” he said.

Clapper said Trump, then president-elect, had remarked to him “during my one and only, first and last ever, I’m sure, sojourn to Trump Tower” that it would be “a good thing if we could get along with the Russians”.

Clapper said he told Trump: “Sure, whenever our interests converge, and they do occasionally, fine, but as far as our being intimate allies, trusting buds, with the Russians? That is just not gonna happen”.

He told the Canberra press club the two countries could not be allies because they had irreconcilable differences. It was in Russia’s “genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and western democracies”.

Clapper said he had attempted in the middle of January to dissuade Trump, during a private phone conversation, from attacking the intelligence establishment in Washington but he said the intervention fell on deaf ears.

The president’s team, he said, was motivated by “extreme paranoia” about any material that cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

Clapper was asked how Australia should approach its most important foreign policy relationship given the challenges posed by the Trump administration. He said the question was somewhat “imponderable.”

He observed there were people in the administration who could be trusted – nominating Jim Mattis, the defence secretary, John Kelly, the homeland security chief, and HR McMaster, the national security adviser. “They have understanding and respect for our institutions,” he said.

He said he was reluctant to give Australia public advice about its foreign policy relationships but he said: “I just think Australia has to keep on and make decisions based on Australia’s best national interests.

“I have to say that I think prime minister Turnbull has found the balance between being very tactful with our president but at the same time not compromising Australia’s interests and its sovereignty.”

Clapper was asked whether Trump’s decision to share Israeli intelligence with Russia should prompt a rethink of intelligence sharing arrangements under the Five Eyes partnership.

He said individual countries would have to make their own judgments. Clapper said that, at the institutional level, agencies would be concerned if intelligence sharing was discontinued.

“But, to some extent, you know, it reaches a certain level where it’s out of our control,” Clapper said. “I hope it doesn’t happen but I could certainly understand if it did and that’s a judgment that each and every national government will have to make.”

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-13 # dbrize 2017-06-07 13:48
The Never Trump folks would do well to find better tribunes than Clapper, he who claims not to lie under oath but merely tell "the least untruthful" answer he can give.

The same man who denied spying on the American people but then when found in ah, "error", pointed out it's really no big deal, no threat to civil liberties, since it would be "immaculate collection".

See, even our spymasters have a sense of humor. Feel better?
 
 
+4 # wipster 2017-06-07 18:09
Is it just my imagination or have a seen this very same comment by this very same commenter several months ago? Maybe I shouldn't have watched "Deja Vu" the night before last...

Great movie BTW...
 
 
+2 # dbrize 2017-06-07 20:49
Quoting wipster:
Is it just my imagination or have a seen this very same comment by this very same commenter several months ago? Maybe I shouldn't have watched "Deja Vu" the night before last...

Great movie BTW...



Imagination...i s crazy...
it makes a brain real hazy...
 
 
+3 # Obwon 2017-06-08 09:51
(to the tune of Car 54 where are you?)

There's an arm deal in the east,
Syria's broken out in fights.
There's a hearing in the Senate
that is blinking harsh red lights,
There's DeVos destroying schools,
Spicers playing us for fools...
POTUS 45 where are you?
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-06-08 21:42
POTUS 45: "Telling my flunkies what to do!"
 
 
-20 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-06-07 14:37
"Clapper insisted that, whatever Trump’s intentions, there was no way the US and Russia could be allies, because Russia was “opposed to our democracy and values and see us, particularly the United States, as the cause of all their problems and frustrations”."

I don't know what give unreonstructed cold warriors the right to say such dishonest and stupid things as this. Just to be clear --

1. Russia is an American ally.

2. Russia is a democracy and supports democracies all around the world. It is the US which supports dictatorships.

3. What are "American values" anyway. Are they war, economic exploitation, torture, corruption, police murders, racism, pornography -- or just deep hypocrisy.

4. Russia has never blamed the US for its problems, even though it easily could. The US imposed the drunkard neo-liberal Boris Yeltsin on Russia along with his economic "shock therapy."


If it were not for corrupt media like the Guardian, Clapper would be gone and forgotten.
 
 
+4 # carytucker 2017-06-07 20:51
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:

If it were not for corrupt media like the Guardian, Clapper would be gone and forgotten.

So now the Guardian is corrupt? Russia is probably a worse kleptocracy than the US, which is rather a high bar. Boris Yeltsin may have been a drunkard, but when the chips were down he helped resist armed forces arrayed against the White House during the August 1991 coup. Evidence is evidence, even if adduced by the devil.
 
 
+3 # Anonymot 2017-06-08 01:34
ll of the vengeful , stillhysterical Hillaryites come forth with their red thumbs down to support this neo-fascist, anti-democracy has-been.

So why is he featured in RSN?
 
 
-1 # Time Traveller 2017-06-08 02:42
Wow! That's all I can say. You have just posted enough contradictory Double Speak to pop my head clean off.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-06-08 21:47
Say what?

Making sense isn't always easy, but it is always worth attempting.
 
 
+5 # librarian1984 2017-06-07 14:39
When James Clapper speaks only fools listen. It would be more useful to cover your ears and hum a little tune than to hear this snake spout his lies.

When did liberals start to take Clapper, Brennan and the rest at their word? One of the more disheartening developments of the past year. That and middle class working families voting for Republicans. Bad developments indeed.
 
 
-1 # Time Traveller 2017-06-08 02:48
Librarian, have you ever heard the maximum, "Any friend in a storm? Girl, we are in a CROSSFIRE HURRICANE SHITSTORM!

Perhaps if you got outside more often, you might have noticed.
 
 
-1 # RLF 2017-06-08 04:28
Liberals have been reacting...anyt hing that is the opposite of Drumf is good for them...labor and everyone else be damned!
 
 
+1 # ericlipps 2017-06-08 18:01
So even listening to Clapper is "taking him at his word" now?

Take what such people say with a grain of salt, yes, but don't pickle it in brine without some reason. Even liars sometimes tell the truth. Whether Clapper et al. are doing so now remains to be seen.
 
 
-3 # librarian1984 2017-06-07 15:17
I agree. It DOES pale in comparison. Watergate involved a small rogue group acting with the president, whereas this involves multiple intelligence agencies colluding with the press to stage a coup.

That is, indeed, a much bigger scandal than Watergate -- the attempted overthrow of the elected United States president.

Is that Victoria Nuland's sulphurous perfume I smell?
 
 
+2 # sbessho 2017-06-07 22:29
". . . this involves multiple intelligence agencies colluding with the press to stage a coup."

Let me guess: Deep State?

Tinfoil hat?
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2017-06-08 10:13
Let me guess: not in Mensa?
 
 
+2 # tclose 2017-06-07 23:22
Huh? What are you talking about??
 
 
+2 # Time Traveller 2017-06-08 03:05
Librarian, just for the record:

1) You insisted that Jill Stein was a VIABLE candidate, when even the Libertarian kicked her ass.

2) You opened the White House door for Dump.

3) And now you are kissing his rosy red patootie, and insist that you are progressive.

My head just popped off and is screaming toward the stratosphere, coz it can't wait for Scotty to beam the rest of my body the FUCK up off this planet full of talking vegetables!
 
 
+1 # dquandle 2017-06-07 17:58
Clapper is a murderous, lying, constitution-su bverting, democracy-destr oying criminal. The vicious, war-mongering, democracy-disso lving Clintonistas are certainly gonna trumpet all he says, because it agrees lock stock and barrel with their despicable interests
 
 
+2 # ericlipps 2017-06-08 18:02
Wipe the foam off your lips, take a tranquilizer or six and lie down for awhile before posting again.
 
 
0 # Time Traveller 2017-06-09 03:30
Eric Lipps = Slipperi C? Is it twoo?
 
 
+7 # Time Traveller 2017-06-07 18:01
More and more it seems that when Prince Charles Tweeted that "the Pentagonchanged the nuclear codes to more than 140 symbols so President Trump can't Tweet them," He may not have been joking!

Maybe Dump IS trying to give the Russkis the nuke code and "cofeve" - or however the fuck it is spelled - is the first part of it...
 
 
+2 # Time Traveller 2017-06-08 03:20
Another Tweet from Charles read, "Obama, you're out. Trump, urine." No shit?
 
 
+6 # dquandle 2017-06-07 18:03
"He said he was reluctant to give Australia public advice about its foreign policy relationships but he said: “I just think Australia has to keep on and make decisions based on Australia’s best national interests."


"Just pretend the one great lidless eye of the US is not spying on you, and we'll be certain to tell you how to vote and behave when we think you need to know it."
 
 
+6 # Jaax88 2017-06-07 18:05
Given all the negative facts and information that is coming out about Russian interference in our election processes it behooves us to listen to folks like Clapper so a known adversary does not
take advantage of an all too willing bumble head trump.
 
 
+19 # Resune9 2017-06-07 19:14
Hangthebankers: "Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday’s [Jan 2017] Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility.
Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.

As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted. In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, “No, sir” to the question, “Does the NSA [National Security Association] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper deserves to be prosecuted for blatant lies,rather than held up as some kind of thought leader. Extrapolating based on his comments is a fool's errand.
 
 
+12 # Inspired Citizen 2017-06-07 19:20
Clapper insisted ... Russia was “opposed to our democracy and values and see us, particularly the United States, as the cause of all their problems and frustrations”.

He's an old-school cold-warrior who's deluded if he thinks the U.S. is a democracy. Campaign finance anarchy renders the U.S. an oligarchy and Citizens United makes U.S. a corporate state. Trump IS a corporation.

I WANT Trump to be successful cooperating with Putin to counter terrorism and promote trust over time. Clapper probably wants Pence in control; he's a neoliberal neo-con like Hillary Clinton, only more careful and further to the right on social issues.
 
 
-3 # lnason@umassd.edu 2017-06-07 20:03
Clapper lied to Congress and the American people by claiming that he was not "wittingly" spying on millions of Americans. Snowden proved beyond a shadow of doubt that this statement was untrue -- in an apology letter Clapper claimed to have forgotten about the program collecting everyone's communication data!

While Obama-Holder-Ly nch did not pursue a perjury charge, Trump-Sessions could. One suspects that Clapper is throwing mud here because, if he becomes a well-enough known critic of Trump, Trump will be unable to fire him without incurring more (probably baseless) charges that Trump is firing people because they are investigating him and were getting too close to something nefarious.

As to whether this is actually "worse than Watergate," in the Watergate scandal there was at least an illegal act (a break-in) at its core. After nearly a year of having the best investigators in the country on the case, no one has found any crime or even suggestions of a crime anywhere -- we can be sure that if even marginal evidence existed it would have been leaked by now.

This is all Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+2 # RNLDaWy 2017-06-07 21:29
You're correct. In advanced cases of syphilis the brain gets damaged. Hoping or even comparing this to Watergate is nothing more than a bad case of The Clap(per)!
 
 
+20 # lfeuille 2017-06-07 20:20
I'm not about to start listening to Clapper on what's serious. It's Trump's total disregard for the law, not his mostly imaginary relationship with Putin.
 
 
-1 # futhark 2017-06-07 20:34
Upon the occasion of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Winston Churchill announced that "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."

While I think Clapper and his ilk pose a significant threat to our Constitutional liberties, having Mr. T removed from office ASAP trumps other considerations. The public will not support impeachment on the basis of demonstrated incompetence or the immorality of the programs he has advanced. They will get behind impeachment if they think he has compromised national security as they understand it. So I propose a one-handed clap for Clapper!
 
 
+1 # MDSolomon 2017-06-07 21:59
LOL! Clapper: zero credibility. http://coloradopublicbanking.blogspot.com/2017/01/us-intelligence-reports-fail.html
 
 
+4 # markovchhaney 2017-06-08 05:51
https://www.opednews.com/articles/Getting-Trump-with-the-N-by-Robert-Parry-Impeach-Trump_McCarthyism-170528-60.html

Good thing RSN is a progressive independent source or I'd think it was WaPo/NYT.
 
 
+1 # chrisconnolly 2017-06-08 08:22
"Russia was “opposed to our democracy and values and see us, particularly the United States, as the cause of all their problems and frustrations”.

Certainly we are not the cause of all their problems, but we are certainly not blameless either. We use Russia as a scapegoat or a diversion for our foreign policy. We are terrorizing seven countries right now and can't possible blame Russia. But we should not think that Putin is a friend. He is more a not so trustworthy neighbor who we need to get along with while we don't exchange Christmas gifts. Trump is an idiot pawn who is in debt to Russian finance and who doesn't give a damn about America. We would do the same to Russia if Putin was the vile idiot Trump is.
 
 
+2 # Dale 2017-06-08 09:09
The Dems screamed that Russian intervened in the American elections in favor of Trump. This stance conveniently ignored that the United States had for decades, not just interfered with elections in other countries, but actively engaged in regime change and war to force a country into submission to the imperial vision. But both intransigent Republicans and corporate Democrats see no contradiction in this stance. Since Presidents Harry Truman and John Kennedy, the Democratic Party has been the principal architect of foreign interventionism and creating anti-communist and anti-Russian hysteria. Without any serious examination of why they lost the election, the Democrats screamed our enemies the Reds are sabotaging our honest and fair elections. After Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-sync economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat.
Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject. Clear assessments of the national ticket’s failures were hazardous to the status quo within the party. So were the groundswells of opposition to unfair economic privilege. So were the grass-roots pressures for the party to become a genuine force for challenging big banks, Wall Street and overall corporate power.

The reframing of Democratic discourse could be summed up in two words: Blame Russia.
 
 
0 # chapdrum 2017-06-08 13:12
Clapper is now above it all, thanks to Don.
 

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