Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday called on Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to resign his post.
Paul also floated the idea of prosecuting Clapper for perjury.
Paul said Clapper’s misleading testimony to a Senate panel earlier this year about a National Security Agency program that collected phone records has hurt the United States far worse than anything leaker Edward Snowden has done.
Paul has been consistently critical of Clapper and the surveillance program since its public disclosure this year.
During a hearing in March, Clapper said the NSA does not “wittingly” collect bulk information on all Americans. After Snowden leaked a trove of NSA documents, it was revealed that the agency collects metadata from all U.S. phones. Clapper has since apologized for the statement.
“And I really think that in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, I think James Clapper should resign,” Paul said.
When asked if the Justice Department should file criminal charges against Clapper, Paul said that if they do not, “you're just encouraging people to lie to us.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, said Clapper was put in a tough spot in an open hearing, but he should not resign.
“I don’t think he should,” Chambliss said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’ve known Jim Clapper for years and years. He is a man of integrity, and he has done a good job.”
Paul said both Clapper and Snowden have broken the law, but suggested that Snowden could be considered a whistle-blower since a judge ruled earlier this week that the collection program appeared to be unconstitutional.
“But at the same time, there is some question whether or not you can be a whistle-blower in our society, and whether you can release information that you think that the government is breaking the law, and that is the argument here, and now it's been upheld by a federal court saying that the government is breaking the law,” he said.
Paul said the report released Wednesday by a group of advisers to President Obama recommending curbs to the NSA is an acknowledgement that the agency needs to be reined in.
“I think even the president's own team now is coming up with recommendations that acknowledge that the president has allowed this to get away from himself,” Paul said.