Rand Paul: Clapper lied to Congress

This photo taken Tuesday, March 12, 2013, shows Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, right, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee during the annual open hearing on worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington. Clapper has decried as reckless the revelation of the National Security Agency's intelligence-gathering programs by former NSA and CIA contractor, Edward Snowden, and said it has done "huge, grave damage." A DNI spokesman said intelligence officials are "currently reviewing the damage that has been done by these recent disclosures." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee during the annual open hearing on worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 12, 2013. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress during a March hearing.

"What I'm saying is that the Director of National Intelligence, in March, did directly lie to Congress, which is against the law," Paul said on CNN, according to a transcript. "He said that they were not collecting any data on American citizens."

Clapper's testimony has been put under the microscope following recent revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programs, which collect vast amounts of data from phone companies.

Clapper responded to a question about whether the government was collecting "any type of data at all on millions of Americans" by saying, "No, sir."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who asked the question, has also called Clapper's comments into question, noting that he was given the question in advance and was allowed to amend it after the hearing.

Paul stopped shy of saying that Clapper should be tried for perjury or that he should resign, only saying that Clapper has hurt his credibility and that, if Paul were president, Paul would ask him to resign.

"When you're doing this and when you have the ability to completely destroy people's lives — you have the ability to actually kill people overseas — I would think that you really have to have the utmost trust," Paul said. "And I think he's lost our trust by lying to us."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · June 18, 2013