Former US intelligence chiefs expressed astonishment and condemnation Monday in response to President Donald Trump’s comments at Monday’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with former CIA Director John Brennan calling the US President’s performance “nothing short of treasonous.”
Following his one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election over Putin’s denial, saying the Russian President was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial.
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous,” Brennan, a frequent critic of Trump who served as CIA chief from 2013 through January 2017, tweeted during the event. “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who served during the Obama administration, called the news conference “truly unbelievable.”
“On the world’s stage, in front of the entire globe, the President of the United States essentially capitulated and seems intimidated by Vladimir Putin. So it was amazing and very, very disturbing,” Clapper, a CNN national security analyst, told Anderson Cooper Monday afternoon.
Former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, who led the NSA during the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency, also expressed dismay over the President’s performance.
In one tweet, Hayden expressed agreement with an analysis that Trump believes Putin more than American intelligence agencies. And when another user tweeted “holy f****n s**t” following the news conference, Hayden responded, “I agree.”