Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress over domestic spying and should not get off “scot-free,” appearing to agree when asked whether Clapper should be criminally charged.
Paul, a noted critic of the NSA surveillance programs, was critical of statements made by Clapper and compared his actions against those of NSA leaker Edward Snowden in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
“I find that really that Clapper’s lying to Congress is probably more injurious to our intelligence capabilities than anything Snowden did, because Clapper has damaged the credibility of the entire intelligence apparatus, and I’m not sure what to believe anymore when they come to Congress,” Paul said.
Blitzer pressed Paul on his comments about Clapper, asking if he believed the NSA director was more of a potential criminal than Snowden.
“I think the law is the law and they both broke the law. One shouldn’t get off scot-free,” Paul said. He added that “what our government is doing is unconstitutional and I really think that in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, I think James Clapper should resign.”
Blitzer then asked Paul specifically whether he would have the Justice Department file criminal charges against Clapper.
BLITZER: So just to be precise: If it were up to you, you’d have the Justice Department file criminal charges against James Clapper?
PAUL: Otherwise you’re just encouraging people to lie to us, and then we have no confidence now — if the intelligence community says, “We’re not spying on Americans,” and they are, and then they say we’re not collecting any data, it’s hard to have confidence in them. Now they’re saying, “Oh, we capture terrorists with this data,” are we to believe them or not to believe them? If they are going to come to us and lie, it really damages their credibility, and it’s damaged their credibility worldwide, but really with the American people, because we don’t know what to believe. So I don’t know how you can have someone in charge of our intelligence who has been known to lie in a public forum to Congress.
Paul was sharply critical of Clapper in June, saying that Clapper lied to Congress when he was giving testimony about the NSA surveillance programs.
Earlier Wednesday, a panel of advisers urged President Obama to end the NSA’s collection of Americans’ telephone logs. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the NSA data mining program was likely unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.