Ex-Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper: Watergate ‘Pales’ In Comparison To The Russia Scandal

Much to President Trump’s dismay, the Russia scandal hasn’t gone away, nor have the comparisons to Watergate. Instead, the Russia probe has spiraled into not one but four investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin, and now former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is weighing in on the similarities with Nixon’s downfall.

Speaking to Australia’s National Press Club on Wednesday, Clapper said, “I think (if) you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.”

Clapper isn’t the only one who has drawn parallels to the infamous wiretapping of the Democratic Party’s headquarters in 1972. John McCain, a continual critic of the Trump administration, told CBS News in May, “The only thing I can say is I think we’ve seen this movie before, I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale and a couple other scandals you and I have seen.”

Both McCain and Clapper are old enough to remember the Watergate scandal as it was unfolding. Clapper told the Australian press, “I lived through Watergate. I was on active duty then in the Air Force as a young officer. It was a scary time.”

Clapper also had words of warning for Australians, noting that China could be seeking the kind of influence with its neighbors in the Pacific that Russia is seeking in the west, and by some of the same illicit means. “I see some striking parallels between what our two countries are experiencing at the hand of these two countries,” Clapper said.

Australia and the U.S. have close intelligence sharing ties, along with the U.K. and New Zealand. President Trump was recently reprimanded by Prime Minister Theresa May for U.S. leaks of key information related to the recent terrorist attack at a Manchester Ariana Grande concert. Clapper commented on that, too, noting, “I will say that, in my 50-plus years in the intel business, I don’t know of a time where we have shared more pervasively and more thoroughly than we do today and it would be a shame if that were jeopardized or set back.”

Perhaps Clapper’s strongest criticism, however, came not from his comparisons of the Russia probe to the Watergate scandal, but when he said that it is countries like Australia that may “fill whatever void is created by the absence of U.S. leadership.” That void may become much bigger if, like Nixon, Trump’s presidency ends in impeachment.

(Via CBS News)