(CNN) - Rep. Peter King said fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul owes the nation’s top intelligence official an apology after saying he should resign for “lying” to a Senate committee about a controversial surveillance program.
The New York congressman also said that Paul's comparison of National Intelligence Director James Clapper to NSA leaker Edward Snowden is "absolutely disgraceful."
"For Senator Paul to compare that patriot, General Clapper, with someone like Snowden, who is a traitor, who has put American lives at risk - Senator Paul should be ashamed of himself," King said Thursday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
"It's an absolute disgrace. He disgraced his office and he owes General Clapper an apology immediately."
Paul told CNN on Wednesday that public congressional testimony by Clapper last March denying the existence of a sweeping electronic data collection program at the National Security Agency had done more to damage the credibility of the intelligence community than the leaks by Snowden that blew the whistle on the spying initiative.
Rand Paul: Intelligence director should resign
Paul, a Kentucky Republican with strong tea party-backing, and King are both considered likely GOP presidential candidates in 2016.
Clapper apologized to the Senate committee for giving members a "clearly erroneous" answer about the surveillance programs.
Intelligence leaks exposed by Snowden, a former government contractor, revealed that the NSA, indeed, had extensive, classified electronic surveillance of telephone and e-mail records.
Clapper later said he was faced with trying to answer a question about a program that at the time was still classified when explaining the discrepancy in his testimony to Congress and the information that arose from the Snowden leaks.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, seven Republican Senators said Clapper's "willful lie under oath fuels the unhealthy cynicism and distrust that citizens feel toward their government" and compromises Congressional oversight functions.
Responding to the letter, a spokesman for Clapper underscored the previous explanation of his testimony and highlighted his long-standing reputation of honesty.
"DNI Clapper has been testifying before members of Congress for more than two decades and he enjoys a well-earned reputation as a doggedly honest and honorable public servant," said Clapper spokesman Shawn Turner.
"He apologized for the confusion caused by his response and is focused on working with the intelligence committees to increase transparency while protecting critical intelligence sources and methods."
King said these Republicans calling for Clapper’s resignation are part of "the isolationist wing of the party.
A review of NSA surveillance ordered by President Barack Obama and released recommended changes to the surveillance program including greater judicial oversight and more public transparency.
Rand Paul IS a waste of skin.
Rand Paul is correct... Rep king is starting to sound like Nancy pelosi... Whacked or a puppet for a corrupt admin/senate... Or both (probably both). Scary thought who the dems have become . The middle classes' new name? Serfdom USA
I'll stand with Rand, rather than the RINO King.
Rand Paul. The apple definitely falls pretty far from the tree, in this case. I respected Ron very much. Rand, absolutely not.
King is out of touch, as usual. His take on issues is usually out in the weeds and divorced from reality. AND he's a RINO.
Gen. Clapper we're sorry we called you a liar after lying to us.
Clapper Lies and King swears to it
When a public figure lies to congress there should be penalties
the same as if I lied to congress.
...geee ... Clapper was dishonest to the Senate and got caught ... does that make him a patriot ? ... King should resign too for being such an empty suit.
I hope the GOP runs Paul in 2016; he will get squashed like a bug.
I don't particularly care for Rand, however, Rand simply stated that Clapper's lying ALSO compromised the integrity of the agency. He also was under oath.
Not to worry Paul. Benjamin Franklin was a traitor to England for exposing them for what they were up to. King has no chance among independent voters. If Republicans want to go it alone again, go ahead. They'll be scratching their heads for another 4 years.
The only traitors are those who sit in power and protect each other.
I agree with Shawn . . . Rand will get my vote if he runs. We certainly need a change in D.C. and Hilary certainly is NOT the answer. ABC anybody but Clinton.
Rep. King epitomizes hypocrisy. I agree 100% with PM Ohio and RonFromNM. He is the one who should resign. Like 99.99% of politicians don't lie? Gimme a freakin' break! Snowden is an American hero, PERIOD!
Rand Paul is one ot the few in Congress with guts and intellect. King ,as well as others have been there way too long. King needs to go, And take most of the rest who think they own Congress. They have forgotten they work for the people. Unfortunately they think we work for them.
"...working with the intelligence committees to increase transparency while protecting critical intelligence sources and methods." In other words, he'll lie better next time.