Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared stunned by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, bashing his testimony as virtually worthless.
In a CNN interview that evening, Clapper told the network’s Don Lemon that Whitaker’s remarks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election weren’t all that credible, suggesting the testimony was a complete disaster.
The hearing began sliding downhill once Whitaker responded to a question from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) by telling him that he’d reached his time limit.
“His performance was truly cringeworthy starting with reminding the chairman that his five minutes was up,” Clapper said. “Boy, you just don’t do that and I thought that was truly amateur hour.”
Feeling Whitaker’s testimony couldn’t be trusted, Clapper said “he was terrible and obviously in over his head.”
Furthermore, he argued that the hearing in which Whitaker refused to defend the integrity of the Mueller inquiry was “a reminder of how the independence of the Department of Justice has kind of taken a beating with him as the acting AG.”
Asked whether he was overseeing a so-called “witch hunt” in regards to the Russia inquiry, Whitaker declined to answer, contending that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on an ongoing investigation.
While Whitaker testified that he has not interfered with Mueller’s work, speculation has swirled over his previous criticisms of the investigation, which he has voiced publicly several times on cable news.