Former CIA director calls Donald Trump 'an unwitting agent' of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin.
(Image credit: Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Before endorsing Hillary Clinton on Friday, former CIA Director Michael Morell offered a particularly damning disavowal of Donald Trump in an op-ed for The New York Times. "In the intelligence business, we would say that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation," wrote Morell, who has served under Republican and Democratic presidents and is registered with neither party.

Morell said Trump's character traits — which include "his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others, and his lack of respect for the rule of law" — have already allowed Putin, a former intelligence officer for the KGB, to play into his "vulnerabilities":

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States. [The New York Times]

For those reasons and more, Morell concluded, "our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president."

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Read Morell's full op-ed over at The New York Times.

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