Dem rips Clapper: He 'needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people'

Dem rips Clapper: He 'needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people'
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Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project Critics say Interior's top lawyer came 'close to perjury' during Hill testimony MORE (D-Ore.) took aim at former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperGeraldo Rivera: Comey, Clapper, Brennan should be 'quaking' in their boots over Barr investigation Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Comey: 'The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates' MORE on Wednesday after Clapper denied during an interview that he had lied to Congress in his 2013 testimony.

Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called on Clapper to "stop making excuses," accusing him of "lying to the American people about mass surveillance."

"James Clapper needs to stop making excuses for lying to the American people about mass surveillance," Wyden tweeted Wednesday afternoon. "To be clear: I sent him the question in advance. I asked him to correct the record afterward. He chose to let the lie stand."

"When intelligence leaders mislead the public about surveillance, they fuel the cynicism and mistrust of government that lets wannabe authoritarians gain power," Wyden added in a subsequent tweet.

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The comments came after Clapper told CNN's John Berman that he was not lying when he denied to Wyden and the Senate panel in 2013 that the National Security Agency "wittingly" collected data on millions of Americans.

"[T]he allegation about my lying, I didn’t lie, I made a big mistake and I just simply didn’t understand what I was being asked about," Clapper told Berman. "I thought of another surveillance program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when I was being asked about Section 215 of the Patriot Act at the time, I just didn’t understand that.”

Wyden has long been a critic of Clapper's, slamming his tenure as director following Clapper's decision to resign one week after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE's election.

“During Director Clapper’s tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance,”  Wyden said at the time. “Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them.”

Clapper has maintained that his statement to Wyden before the Senate panel in 2013 was a "mistake," and has denied that he ever tried to hide the scope of the federal government's surveillance U.S. citizens.