NY [U.S.], May 14: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a stern warning about the state of the U.S. Government stating that the U.S. institutions are "under assault' after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week".
Pressed by anchor Jake Tapper if he meant U.S. institutions were under assault internally from the President, Clapper responded, "Exactly".
More precisely, Clapper said that the "built-in system of checks and balances" set up by the founding fathers is "under assault and is eroding". "I think in many ways our institutions are under assault", Mr Clapper told CNN's Face the Nation on Sunday.
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill on May 8.
Clapper said Sunday that he spoke with Comey prior to the dinner while at an event at Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington.
Clapper said he was "concerned" with Trump's firing of Comey this week.
'It's a national treasure, ' he said of the agency. Clapper didn't hesitate: "Exactly".
But Clapper has spent the past few days disputing Trump's interpretation of his statements, and expressing grave concerns over how Trump abruptly fired now-former FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening.
While serving as DNI chief from 2010 to 2017, Clapper said he left it up to the FBI director 'whether, when and what to tell me about any counter-intelligence investigations they may have under way'.
United States President Donald Trump has denied allegations of any type of collusion between his campaign officials and Russian operatives.
"What's unfolded now, here, the leader of the - the lead of the investigation about potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign has been removed".
"I had no evidence available to me that there was collusion, but that's not necessarily exculpatory since I did not know the state of the investigation or the content - what had been turned up with it", Clapper said.
"Well, I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me", Clapper said. "I don't know of any evidence to it".
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Clapper how it could be that the FBI was investigating whether there was collusion, but, at the same time, signed off on an assessment that said there was no evidence of it.
"I did not have any evidence", Clapper said, again noting he was unaware of the executive branch investigation into allegations of collusion.