Clapper: US institutions 'under assault'

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 Russian Federation and the Trump campaign in what the USA intelligence community says was Moscow's efforts to influence the United States election.

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, said Sunday that US institutions are "under assault" by President Trump as evidenced by Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey last week. "I feel as though that is under assault and is eroding".

The White House had no immediate comment on Mr Clapper's remarks on a morning in which no White House aide appeared on the Sunday news shows to discuss Mr Trump's firing.

CLAPPER: Well, I will just say that the developments of the past week very bothersome and disturbing to me. Clapper first made a point to tell Tapper that his statements about not having seen evidence of collusion "should not be considered exculpatory", despite Trump's insistence to the contrary.

TAPPER: This week, with the president firing the FBI director, this investigation is going on.

When CNN host Jake Tapper asked if he meant they were under assault by the president, Clapper responded: "Exactly". "So I can't refute it, and I can't confirm it". Comey's firing, though, has had a negative impact, Clapper said.

Garland was President Barack Obama's pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after Scalia's death past year.

American democracy is separately "under assault" from Donald Trump and Russian Federation, the former U.S. intelligence chief has warned.

"The bottom line is I don't know if there was collusion, political collusion", Clapper said "I don't know of any evidence to it".

Less than a week after Mr Trump fired Mr Comey, the administration has interviewed at least eight candidates to be Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and Mr Trump has said a decision could come before he leaves on Friday on his first overseas trip as president.

Clapper said Sunday that his "standard practice" as the leader of the intelligence community during the Obama administration was to defer to the FBI on any counterintelligence investigations.

On Friday, Trump raised eyebrows by tweeting a warning to Comey, whom he fired unexpectedly on Tuesday, about leaking information to the media, saying he "better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press".

"[Comey] mentioned to me the invitation he had from the president for dinner, and that he was - my characterization - uneasy with it, both from the standpoint of the optic of compromising his independence and the independence of the FBI", Clapper told Tapper.

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