Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that President Donald Trump is leading an internal assault on the U.S.' institutions at the same time Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections weakened them, saying both are "eroding" the nation's system of governance. "I think in many ways, our institutions are under assault externally and that's the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system".
When Tapper asked if he was referring to the president, Clapper responded, "Exactly".
"The current atmospherics. And what that's doing to our system of three co-equal branches of government- checks and balances, et cetera", added Clapper. "And I think as well our institutions are under assault internally", Clapper said on CNN's State of the Union.
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill on May 8.
'I do know that it came as a great shock to, it was very disturbing to FBI employees, I spoke to one last night at a dinner that was quite upset about it and I think that reflects the feeling, the widespread feeling in the FBI, ' Clapper said.
Clapper said he was "concerned" with Trump's firing of Comey this week.
The former USA national intelligence director says the global "ransomware" attack could grow much larger when people return to work.
"Whatever decisions that some may disagree with that Director Comey made I don't think there's any question, certainly not among rank and file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, about his leadership and his character and his integrity".
But Trump later said in an exclusive interview with NBC News' on Thursday that he had planned to fire "showboat" Comey "regardless" of the Justice Department's recommendation.
"And what has unfolded now, the leader of the investigation about potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign has been removed", Clapper said.
At that subcommittee hearing, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired in January for refusing to defend his initial temporary ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries and suspension of the entry of Syrian refugees, declined to answer the question of whether there was evidence of collusion publicly; in her answer, she also noted that Clapper had been unaware of the FBI investigation.
In short, the FBI's investigation could still produce evidence of collusion. I did not know about the investigation, ' Clapper said again on Sunday. 'So I can't refute it and I can't confirm it'.