Ex-US intel chief: American democracy 'under assault' by Trump, Russia

They can make recommendations, but the president will ultimately make the hiring decision.

"In many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally - and the big news here is the Russian interference in our election system". The move prompted an uproar among Democrats and some Republicans because Comey's agency is leading an investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation in that country's attempts to interfere with the USA presidential election a year ago. "And, I think, as well our institutions are under assault internally", Clapper said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that the Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, needs Comey to appear before it to "clear the air".

However, Lee gave Trump the benefit of the doubt, saying, "As far as I'm aware, he is fully cooperating and he is willing and eager to see this investigation" through.

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When asked if he meant if those institutions were "under assault" internally by the president himself, Clapper said "exactly" and added that he believed Trump was undermining the checks and balances inherent to the USA political system. Clapper said America's founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now "eroding". The new director will nearly certainly have to work to maintain the bureau's credibility by asserting political independence in the face of a president known for demanding loyalty from the people he appoints. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, who is under consideration.

Rogers, an ex-FBI agent and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has drawn the backing of the FBI Agents Association.

"I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me", Clapper said.

Under Senate rules, Republicans could confirm an Federal Bureau of Investigation director with 51 votes.

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Calling Trump's remarks about possible taped conversations "outrageous", Sen.

Almost two thirds did think the FBI was up to that task, but the future of the FBI investigation is now unclear following Trump's firing of Comey - which Trump has admitted was at least partially in response to Comey's handling of that investigation. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his panel or another committee would "absolutely" subpoena such tapes. President Donald Trump's firing of Comey added a new layer of uncertainty to the agency's corporate criminal investigations.

Warner said he would "absolutely" want the Senate to subpoena the White House to produce any recordings made by the Trump administration that are relevant to the Comey firing or the Russian Federation matter.

Warner and other Democrats also questioned the involvement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in interviewing candidates to replace Comey.

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Among those expected to be interviewed on Saturday were Michael J Garcia, an associate judge on New York's highest court, and US District Judge Henry E Hudson, a George W Bush appointee who struck down the centrepiece of the Obama administration's health care law in 2010. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the choice should be "certainly somebody not of a partisan background, certainly somebody of great experience and certainly somebody of courage".

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