“Clapper is probably job secure for now because (Capitol) Hill is not calling for his removal,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and adviser to the Obama White House who heads the Brookings Intelligence Project research group. “But he now has an unfortunate record. Another misstatement, and he will be a liability.”

The intelligence director’s staying power shows the Obama administration’s reluctance to unseat the nation’s top spy while the intelligence community is dealing with the fallout of what Snowden, a former NSA systems analyst, has disclosed and what he might still reveal. Asking Clapper to step down would also elevate Snowden by highlighting his claim that senior U.S. officials were lying to Congress about the nature and extent of NSA surveillance programs.

Snowden’s revelations have exposed a level of domestic spying that most Americans were unaware of, prompting a national debate over privacy. He is still believed to be stranded at a Moscow airport.