Ex-DNI James Clapper: 'Of course' intelligence assessments cast doubt on 'legitimacy of Trump's election'
James Clapper and Donald Trump

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted that U.S. officials doubted the legitimacy of President Donald Trump's election.

The Obama administration official spoke Wednesday at Australia’s National Press Club, where he said the Watergate scandal, which ended in President Richard Nixon's resignation, "pales" in comparison to what's been uncovered so far about Trump's ties to Russia.

"I am very concerned about the assault on our institutions coming from both an external source — read Russia — and an internal source, the president himself," Clapper said.

Clapper was deeply troubled when Trump began his presidency by insulting the intelligence community as "Nazis," after their findings had suggested his election might have been tainted.

"This was prompted, I found, I realized later, by his and his team’s extreme paranoia about and resentment of any doubt cast on the legitimacy of his election which, of course, our assessment did," Clapper said.

The former intelligence official called Trump to discuss his slur, and he was surprised by the president's reaction.

"Ever transactional, he simply asked me to publicly refute the infamous dossier, which of course I couldn't and wouldn't do," Clapper said.