Ex-intelligence chiefs: President Trump is being 'played' by Russian President Putin
WASHINGTON — President Trump is being “played” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, two former intelligence chiefs said on Sunday, responding to Trump’s statement that Putin “means it” when he denies the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 presidential election. In a joint appearance on CNN's State of the Union, James Clapper, the ex-director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the former CIA director, both slammed Trump’s remarks as naïve and dangerous. “It’s either naïveté, ignorance, or fear,” Brennan said of Trump’s take on Putin and the 2016 election. “Putin is very clever,” Brennan said, and he is using Trump’s insecurity and his need for flattery to convince him that Russia’s intentions toward the United States are not malicious. Trump has since tried to clarify his remarks, made to reporters on Air Force One on Saturday during an extended trip to Asia. During that initial conversation, Trump told reporters that every time he sees Putin, "he says 'I didn’t do that' and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says 'I didn’t do that.' I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country." Asked to clarify on Sunday at a Hanoi news conference, Trump said, “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that” Russia did not interfere. Trump offered a more ambiguous answer about whether he accepted the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded last year that the Russian government mounted a sophisticated campaign to sway the election. “As to whether I believe it or not,” Trump said, “I’m with our [intelligence] agencies, especially as currently constituted.” Trump added that he wants to “get along with Russia” and suggested Putin could be an important ally for the U.S. “It’s very naïve and perilous to this country to make an assumption that Russia is going to behave with the best interest of the world or the United States,” Clapper said on CNN. “They’re not.” Both Clapper and Brennan said Trump’s comments highlight his self-doubt, particularly when it comes to his victory in the 2016 election. They said Putin and other world leaders are using that to manipulate Trump. “I think it demonstrates to Putin that Donald Trump can be played,” said Brennan.

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