Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waves during his walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In an op-ed written for the New York Times, former CIA Director Michael Morell denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and deemed him a threat to US national security should he be voted into office.
"The character traits he [Trump] has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief," said Morell. "These traits 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."
These traits, he said, not only pose a future danger, but are already damaging US national security and being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin, Morell pointed out, was a career intelligence officer "trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them;" In turn, he used these skills to reel Trump in during the primaries via compliments, and Trump responded as Putin foresaw.
Trump referred to Putin as a "great leader" on the campaign trail, ignoring his less-than-exemplary human rights record and driving of the Russian economy downhill. Furthermore, by "endorsing Russian espionage against the US, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States," his policy positions explicitly align with Russian, rather than American interests, Morell claimed.
On Wednesday, Trump suggested that Russia commit a cybercrime
against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, saying he hoped Russia would hack into Clinton’s private email server and recover some of her deleted emails.
"My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it," Morell said. In this case, "We would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
Trump's flaws do not lie solely in his inability to protect US national security interests, though, Morell claimed. Further proof lies in his challenge of core US values, iterated in his calls to bar Muslims from entering the country - a statement that fundamentally "plays into the hands of the jihadist narrative that our fight against terrorism is a war between religions" - and desire to erect a separation wall on the US-Mexican border.
"As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president," Morell said. Yet now, he would make his from-from-neutral vote known. "I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then [the elections], I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president."
Michael Wilner contributed to this report.