Two former US intelligence chiefs have said Donald Trump poses “a peril” to the US because he is vulnerable to being “played” by Russia, after the president said on Saturday he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director John Brennan issued a stern rebuke to Trump after the president called both men “political hacks” for their support of an intelligence agency consensus that Russia meddled with the US election.
“First of all, he was referring to us as political hacks because he was trying to delegitimize the intelligence assessment that was done,” Brennan told CNN’s State of the Union.
He added: “By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin: ‘We know that you’re responsible for this,’ I think he’s giving Putin a pass.
“And I think it demonstrates to Mr Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to be appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, recently issued the first indictments in the investigation into possible collusion between Trump aides and Russia. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion.