U.S. democ­racy ‘un­der as­sault’ by Trump, Rus­sia

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - HOPE YEN

WASH­ING­TON — Amer­i­can democ­racy is “un­der as­sault” on sep­a­rate fronts from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sia, the for­mer U.S. in­tel­li­gence chief warned Sun­day, ex­press­ing dis­may over the abrupt fir­ing of FBI di­rec­tor James Comey amid a probe into Moscow’s med­dling in U.S. elec­tions and pos­si­ble ties with the Trump cam­paign.

As Trump works to fast-track Comey’s suc­ces­sor, law­mak­ers from both par­ties urged him to steer clear of any politi­cians for the job and say he must “clean up the mess that he mostly cre­ated.”

“I think, in many ways, our in­sti­tu­tions are un­der as­sault, both ex­ter­nally — and that’s the big news here, is the Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in our elec­tion sys­tem,” said James Clap­per, the for­mer di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence. “I think as well our in­sti­tu­tions are un­der as­sault in­ter­nally.”

When asked if he meant “in­ter­nally,” from the pres­i­dent? Clap­per replied: “Ex­actly.” Clap­per spoke fol­low­ing Trump’s sud­den fir­ing of Comey last week, which drew sharp crit­i­cism be­cause it came amid the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Clap­per said Amer­ica’s found­ing fathers had cre­ated three co­equal branches of govern­ment with checks and bal­ances.

But with Trump as pres­i­dent, that was now “erod­ing.”

The White House had no im­me­di­ate com­ment. No White House aide ap­peared on the Sun­day news shows, leav­ing Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, to de­fend Trump.

“The pres­i­dent is the CEO of the coun­try. He can hire and fire who­ever he wants,” she said.

Law­mak­ers from both par­ties rep­ri­manded Trump’s ac­tions, which in­cluded shift­ing ex­pla­na­tions from the White House for Comey’s dis­missal and an omi­nous tweet by Trump that warned Comey against leaks to the press be­cause he may have “tapes” of their con­ver­sa­tions.

The law­mak­ers called for a new FBI di­rec­tor with­out any po­lit­i­cal back­ground and said Trump would need to hand over to Con­gress any taped con­ver­sa­tions with Comey, if they ex­ist.

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

James Clap­per says Don­ald Trump is “erod­ing” govern­ment branches.

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