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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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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