James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, said the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency “pales” in comparison to allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“I lived through Watergate. I was on active duty then in the Air Force, I was a young officer. It was a scary time,” Clapper told reporters Wednesday at Australia’s National Press Club in Canberra, adding that “if you compare the two that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now.”
Clapper’s comments come one before the highly anticipated testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump in May, prompting many to question whether the sacking constituted an obstruction of justice. The FBI is leading a Russia inquiry. Trump has repeatedly denied allegations his campaign colluded with Russia and has dismissed the inquiry into the matter as a “witch hunt.”
Clapper said he is “very interested” to hear what Comey has to say when he testifies Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will likely ask the former FBI director about interactions he had with the president prior to his dismissal. On Tuesday it was reported that Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions he did not want to be alone with Trump after the president asked him to drop the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser.