Former US intelligence officials: Trump being 'played' by Putin
November 12 at 10:52 AM
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)
Two top former U.S. intelligence officials said Sunday that President Trump is being âplayedâ by President VladiÂmir Putin on Russiaâs interference in the 2016 election and accused him of being susceptible to foreign leaders who stroke his ego.
âBy not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know youâre responsible for this, I think heâs giving Putin a pass,â former CIA director John Brennan said on CNNâs âState of the Union.â âI think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.â
Appearing on the same program, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said he agrees with that assessment.
[Trump says Putin sincere in denial of Russian meddling]
âHe seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,â Clapper said.
Trump told reporters traveling with him in Asia that Putin had assured him at a conference in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and he indicated that he believed Putin was sincere.
Later, in a news conference Sund ay in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, âWhat I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.âPresident Trump attempted to clear up confusion over whether he accepts Russian President Vladimir Putin's denials of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. (Reuters)
In his earlier remarks to reporters, Trump also referred to Brennan and Clapper as âpolitical hacks.â Brennan said Sunday that he considers Trumpâs characterization âa badge of honor.â
Both men were highly critical of Trump for not saying more definitively that Putin was behind the Russian interference in the U.S. election, a conclusion strongly endorsed by the U.S. intelligence community.
âI donât know why the ambiguity about this,â Brennan said. âPutin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.â
Clapper said, âItâs very clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and itâs still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it and also push hard against Mr. Putin.â
Appearing later on CNN, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Trumpâs defense, brushing aside the comments of Brennan and Clapper.
âThose were the most ridiculous statements,â Mnuchin said. âPresident Trump is not getting played by anybody.â
Mnuchin said Trump wants to focus on thorny issues posed by North Korea and Syria and is trying to get Russia on board with the U.S. strategy.
âI think the country is ready to move on off of this and focus on important issues,â he said.
Marc Short, Trumpâs director of legislative affairs, said Sunday that the president does concur with a January 2017 assessment by the intelligence community about Russian meddling.
âBut letâs b e careful and be straight about what it is the president believes right now,â Short said during an appearance on NBCâs âMeet the Press.â
âHe believes that after a year of investigations of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, there is zero evidence of any ballot being impacted by Russian interference,â Short said. âWhat the president is trying to do right now is recognize the gravest threat that America faces is North Korea developing nuclear weapons. And nuclear weapons in North Korea is a greater threat than Russia buying Facebook ads in America.âSource: Google News