"To destroy them would be a violation of law".
The president tweeted about the Russian Federation investigation several times this week, including on Thursday when he said "Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the USA tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election".
"I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally - and that's the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system", Clapper said. The former FBI director had been leading the agency's investigation into the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials. "And I think, as well, our institutions are under assault internally".
"We can make a fast decision", Trump told reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One before flying to Lynchburg, Virginia to deliver a commencement address at Liberty University.
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 US political system.
The FBI Agents Association has endorsed former Republican congressman Mike Rogers, an ex-FBI agent who led the House intelligence committee and had collegial relationships with his Democratic counterparts.
"I think the founding fathers, in their genius, created a system of three co-equal branches of government and built in a system of checks and balances, and I feel as though that's under assault and that's eroding", he added. Lindsey Graham said it is time for Trump to come clean about whether he recorded conversations at the White House.
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Senator John Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general, was also interviewed. An ex-FBI agent, Rogers drew the backing of the FBI Agents Association, which said his diverse background makes him the best choice.
"I will just say that the developments of the past week are very bothersome, very disturbing to me", Clapper said. "If there's tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over". Only 15 percent of respondents said they preferred that the GOP-controlled Congress handle the investigation, which would also look into alleged links between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, while only 40 percent of poll respondents said they have at least some confidence in the ability of Congress to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the matter. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said his panel or another committee would "absolutely" subpoena such tapes.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said his caucus has not yet made a decision on whether to withhold their votes, but added that the issue is being looked at as a way to ensure there is a thorough investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election.
Less than a week after Trump fired James Comey, the administration has interviewed at least eight candidates to be Federal Bureau of Investigation director and an appointment is imminent.
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.
Clapper and Schumer made their comments on CNN's "State of the Union"; Graham spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press"; Haley and Warner appeared on ABC's "This Week" and Warner also spoke on "Fox News Sunday" along with Lee and Holmes.