Two former intelligence chiefs blast Trump over Russian Federation comments

12 November, 2017, 21:52 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.   Screenshot  CNN

WASHINGTON ― Two former top US intelligence officials on Sunday denounced President Donald Trump's repeated refusal to definitively affirm Russian meddling in the 2016 election, saying the president is being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Clapper offered his skepticism after President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this weekend, and Trump emerged saying he believed Putin's denial of Russian interference in the USA presidential election.

Update 12:55pm CT, Nov. 11: The CIA released a statement in response to Trump's claims, saying that Director Mike Pompeo stands by the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.

The agency said it would have no further comment.

"Every time he [Putin] sees me he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it". "So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey".

Asked about his own knowledge of any potential collusion between Trump's associates and Russia, Brennan demurred, saying he had spoken with the congressional investigators, and went on later in the interview to praise former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is leading the special counsel investigation.

For Brennan, such flip-flops by Trump on whether Russian Federation did or did not intervene are a function of foreign leaders playing Trump's ego and insecurities.

Brennan also fired back on Sunday against Trump's criticisms of him, Clapper, and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey as "political hacks".

"He said he didn't meddle". "I asked him again".

Mr. Clapper said that might be true in theory, but that Mr. Trump shouldn't bank on it.

That wasn't the first time Trump accepted Putin's account about election interference.

Brennan said that Trump was trying to "delegitimize" the United States intelligence community and that, considering Trump was the source of the criticism, he saw it as a "badge of honor". "And to impugn Jim Clapper on Veterans Day, who has dedicated so much of his life to this country, I just find that outrageous, and I think it's something Mr. Trump should be ashamed of, but it doesn't seem as though in anything he does he feels any shame whatsoever".

His remarks, which came near the end of Trump's marathon swing through Asia, amounted to the clearest statement yet of Trump's views about last year's election meddling issue.

"I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump's interest in being flattered", Brennan said.

But Trump had already relayed Putin's reaction to the US intelligence community's conclusions on Russian interference, CNN's Tapper pointed out Sunday, and further noted that the Russian president was insulted by this conclusion.

Clapper, before he stepped down from his post, said in January that he could not conclude whether Trump's campaign colluded.

"I don't know why the ambiguity about this, because the threat posed by Russian Federation, as John just said, is manifest and obvious and has been for a long time", said Clapper.

"To try to paint it in any other way is astounding and poses a peril", Mr. Clapper told CNN's "State of the Union".

Tapper pointed to Clapper saying there was no "template", asking Brennan if the intelligence community was sufficiently prepared given prior Russian efforts to meddle in other countries' democratic processes.

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