Monday on CNN’s “The Lead,” host Jake Tapper asked former top Obama advisor and new CNN contributor Dan Pfeiffer if Americans don’t trust government because President Barack Obama didn’t hold the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responsible for “lying” to Congress about the NSA’s mass data collection.
Tapper said, “I want to turn to the struggle that the White House is facing right now in terms of its national security message and the fact that the president clearly wanted those powers in the Patriot Act renewed. They were not ultimately renewed. I understand the Republicans control both the House and Senate, but some look at this and see a larger problem. Ron Fournier, for example, writing in the National Journal, said ‘the greatest threat to democracy is not the rise of ISIS, Iran and lone wolf attacks. The greatest threat is this — Americans no longer trusting the people and institutions protecting them.’ Fournier goes on to argue one of the reasons for that is James Clapper not being honest about the collection of data and President Obama not holding him accountable. Is that a fair analysis?”
Pfeiffer answered, “Look, I don’t know I would say it’s the greatest threat to democracy, but decreasing trust in public institutions, something going on for decades in this country, is a real problem in our democracy and incumbent upon every president, this one included, to rebuild that, and they have to work hard on that, no doubt.”
Tapper continued, “Don’t you think that not holding James Clapper accountable, not even expressing publicly dismay with the fact that—I think it’s tough to argue he did anything but lie before Congress and the American people about the metadata program—you can argue he did it for national security, but clearly he was lying. Then not even expressing dismay, hurt, ultimately the president’s ability to keep the power he wanted to keep?”
Pfeiffer replied, “I don’t think that’s true in this case. We had a specific problem in this country about trying to get the Patriot Act renewed. It was a problem between the junior senator in Kentucky and the senate majority leader from Kentucky. That doesn’t go to the I don’t think Rand Paul is making his campaign decisions because of what the president did.”
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