The Latest: Clapper says Trump eroding checks and balances

May 15, 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey leaves his home in McLean, Va., Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)
Former FBI Director James Comey leaves his home in McLean, Va., Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the search for an FBI director (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

The former U.S. intelligence chief is warning that President Donald Trump is eroding the nation’s system of checks and balances.

The remarks Sunday by former director of national intelligence James Clapper come partly in response to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Clapper also warns that Russia is behind an external assault on U.S. institutions. The FBI and Congress are investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and any ties to the Trump campaign.

Trump fired Comey last Tuesday. Lawmakers from both parties are urging the president to steer clear of picking any politicians for Comey’s replacement.


1:40 p.m.

The Senate’s top Democrat is raising the possibility his party may try to stall President Donald Trump’s FBI nominee until his administration agrees to have a special prosecutor investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

The threat from New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is more fallout from Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey — and the evolving reasons for the dismissal.

Democrats would need Republican support to follow through because it takes 51 votes for confirmation — and Republican now hold 52 seats.

Schumer tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that “the key here, of course, is getting some of our Republican colleagues to join us. We’re hoping. We’re waiting.”


12:05 p.m.

The former director of national intelligence says that in many ways, American political institutions are “under assault” today — by Russia from the outside and President Donald Trump from the inside.

U.S. intelligence agencies have made clear their conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

And now, ex-intelligence chief James Clapper — who worked for President Barack Obama — worries that the U.S. democratic system of checks and balances and the separation of powers among three equal branches of government is being threatened by the current president.

Clapper tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thinks “our institutions are under threat internally.”

And when he was asked, “Internally, from the president?” Clapper says, “Exactly.”

He feels the Founding Fathers’ carefully constructed system is “under assault and is eroding.”


10:35 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging President Donald Trump to pick a new FBI director without any political background after the controversial firing of James Comey.

The South Carolina Republican sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says promoting an FBI agent to lead the bureau would allow the nation to “reset” amid accusations that Trump fired Comey to impede the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Graham says that means ruling out former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan or Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. Rogers chaired the House intelligence committee; Cornyn is the Senate’s No. 2 Republican.

Fourteen people have emerged as candidates, including Rogers and Cornyn.

Graham spoke Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


10:25 a.m.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia says Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not be interviewing candidates for FBI director.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee called it “inappropriate” because Sessions pledged to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the election. The FBI is investigating the Russians’ involvement.

Critics have alleged that President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was an effort to stifle the FBI probe.

The Justice Department has said Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, were involved in the interviews because the FBI director reports to them as attorney general and deputy attorney general.

Warner also said on “Fox News Sunday” the American people need to hear from Comey, saying he expects that “we will get a chance to hear from Director Comey in public.”


2:30 a.m.

Eight candidates for FBI director have been interviewed at Justice Department headquarters as President Donald Trump searches for James Comey’s replacement.

So far 14 people have emerged as candidates. Just over half of them met Saturday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

Those interviewed for the job include Sen. John Corny of Texas, former congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Two female candidates, former Bush administration officials Alice Fisher and Frances Townsend, also met with Sessions and Rosenstein. The FBI has never been led by a woman.

Trump has told reporters that he could make his decision public before leaving for the Mideast and Europe on Friday.