Columbus:Â President Donald Trump is showing he âcan be playedâ by Vladimir Putin when he doesnât acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election, a former Central Intelligence Agency director said.
âI think heâs giving Putin a pass,â John Brennan, CIA director under president Barack Obama, said Sunday on CNNâs âState of the Union.â âIt demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national-security standpoint.â
James Clapper, former US director of national intelligence, agreed with that assessment and said he thinks âboth the Chinese and the Russians think they can playâ Trump with flattery.
Brennan and Clapper responded to comments Trump made on his Asia trip. The president on Saturday initially said Putin believed he didnât interfere in the election and that itâs time for the US to work with Russia on more pressing concerns.
Also speaking onÂ CNN, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the president, saying heâs ânot getting played by anybodyâ and was looking to other matters.
North Korea, Syria
âPresident Trump was focused on some very important issues, which are North Korea and Syria and those are areas that we need to work together with Russia and get them on board with our strategy,â Mnuchin said.
Separately, on CBS Newsâ âFace the Nation,â Mnuchin said ânobody thinksâ Russian activities had any impact on the election. âSo whatever occurred, there was no impact.â
Clapper said the chances that Russia will pursue like interests with the US are âslim and none.â He said the threat Russia poses to the US and its democracy is âmanifest and obviousâ and that to say otherwise âis astounding and in fact, poses a perilâ to the country.
âThe Russians do not harbour good intentions toward the United States, and there shouldnât be any illusions or any ambiguity about that â and our president fosters that ambiguity,â Clapper said.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday, Trump called Clapper and Brennan, along with former FBI Director James Comey, âpolitical hacks,â and added that Comey was âproven now to be a liar and heâs proven to be a leaker.â
Brennan responded on CNN by saying, âconsidering the source of the criticism, I consider that criticism a badge of honour.â