Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper slammed President Trump Tuesday for claiming the Justice Department was part of the "deep state," saying Trump's use of the term was "reprehensible" and "disturbing."
"I think it's pretty reprehensible to use that phraseology in any event," Clapper told CNN. "I guess who that refers to are long-serving civil servants, career civil servants, who are patriots dedicated to the country."
Former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “It’s pretty reprehensible” to refer to the Justice Department as the “deep state.” President Trump is talking about “career civil servants who are patriots dedicated to the country.” pic.twitter.com/EPppU6adn6— CNN (@CNN) January 2, 2018
The phrase "deep state" describes a belief that there is a movement among undemocratically elected bureaucrats to undermine the government's legislative and policy agenda.
"I'd point out that when you take the oath of office as a civil servant, you swear to uphold the Constitution. That doesn't say anything about pledging loyalty to this president or any other. And if not doing so is what constitutes being part of the deep state, I think that represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what this country is all about and what our government's all about," Clapper, who served former President Barack Obama from 2010-2017, continued.
"I find that characterization disturbing," he added.
In an early morning tweet Tuesday, Trump demanded that the "Deep State Justice Dept" "finally act" after the partial release of State Department emails found on the laptop of former Hillary Clinton staffer Huma Abedin's husband, Anthony Weiner.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid [sic], Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” Trump tweeted.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later Tuesday pushed back on the assertion that Trump considered "the entire Justice Department" and "its more than 100,000 employees" as members of the deep state.
“Obviously he doesn’t believe the entire Justice Department is part of that," Sanders said. "You know, one of the things the president has done is appoint Christopher Wray at the FBI because he wants to change the culture of that agency.”