James Clapper Rips Trump’s “Downright Scary” Phoenix Speech, Questions Fitness for Office

“How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?”

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper cast doubt on President Donald Trump’s fitness for office shortly after the president hosted a deeply divisive campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday evening. The president has been widely condemned for using the rally to angrily defend his Charlottesville response and continue attacks on the media that are generally based on falsehoods and distortions.

“It’s hard to know where to start, it’s just so objectionable on so many levels,” Clapper said in a CNN appearance with Don Lemon. “I’ve toiled in one capacity or another for every president since and including John F. Kennedy through President Obama, and I don’t know when I’ve listened and watched something like this from a president that I’ve found more disturbing.”

“I really question his ability to be—his fitness to be—in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it,” he added.

Clapper also issued a stark warning over Trump’s access to the country’s nuclear capabilities, particularly amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

These were not new concerns voiced by the former director of national intelligence, who has been one of the president’s fiercest critics for some time. In May, he warned that the country’s democratic institutions were “under assault” with Trump in the White House. Clapper has also described the ongoing Russia investigations as far more serious than the Watergate scandal of the 1970’s.

“I think you compare the two, that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we’re confronting now.”

Trump has previously distorted Clapper’s remarks and suggested that they proved his innocence in the Russia probes.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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