President Donald Trump poses a threat to American national security because he is vulnerable to being “played” by Russia, according to two former intelligence chiefs.
Their comments on Sunday came after Mr Trump tried to walk back his claim that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials that Russia did not meddle in last year’s American election.
But John Brennan, former director of the CIA, and James Clapper, former director of the National Security Agency, condemned his refusal to push back hard against the Russian president Putin and his role in trying to sway the outcome.
Mr Brennan told CNN’s State of the Union: “I 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.”
On Saturday, Mr Trump’s said he accepted the sincerity of Mr Putin’s denials.
“Every time he sees me, he says: ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe — I really believe — that when he tells me that, he means it,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Later that day, he tried to clarify his remarks, insisting he did trust his intelligence agencies which had come to a different conclusion.
“I believe that [Mr Putin] feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” said Mr Trump at a news conference in Hanoi.
“As to whether I believe it, I’m with our agencies. As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”
He also said he did not believe Mr Putin was personally involved and lashed out at former heads of US intelligence agencies – including Mr Brennan and Mr Clapper – calling them “political hacks”.
The CIA and other agencies have presented evidence that Russian officials, directed by Mr Putin, tried to help Mr Trump defeat his rival, Hillary Clinton.
A federal investigation into whether Mr Trump’s team colluded with that effort has already led to charges against three members of the campaign.
But former senior intelligence officials say they are mystified about Mr Trump’s failure to take a tougher line.
James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, told CNN: “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. To try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding and poses a peril to this country.”
Mr Trump arrived in the Philippines yesterday on the final leg of his trip.
The American president has previously praised the country’s violent war on drugs, despite allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings.
Trump says Putin’s insulted by election interference claims
His host, Rodrigo Duterte, has sometimes been called the “Trump of the East” for his brash, no-holds-barred style.
Mr Trump has frequently been at odds with Asian and Pacific leaders who are forging ahead with free-trade deals.
And hours before they were due to meet, Mr Duterte delivered another snub, casting further doubt on American economic leadership in the region.
“Today China is the number one economic power, and we have to be friends,” he told a business conference in Manila.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/12/donald-trump-backtracks-russia-hack-former-intelligence-chiefs/