Donald Trump and his Republican allies have tried to portray Hillary Clinton as a danger to national security, because of FBI Director James Comey’s report that said several emails containing classified information were found on the server she used while secretary of state. But now one former member of the intelligence community is speaking out, saying that Trump, not Clinton, is the candidate who endangers America.
Michael Morell is a 33-year CIA veteran who served as the agency’s acting director between 2010-2013. In a New York Times op-ed on Friday, Morell not only endorses Clinton but offers up a warning about Trump.
Morell starts by noting that he is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. He says that over his time at the Agency he served presidents of both parties and has voted for candidates from both sides. He adds that because of his position as a government official he has always remained silent about which candidates are getting his support.
But now Morell says he cannot be silent.
On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.
A strong statement for a man who has spent his career being publicly apolitical.
Morell goes on to explain that his decision to speak out is partly due to Clinton, but also due to Trump. First, he praises Clinton:
Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe.
And he immediately follows that statement with this one about Trump:
Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.
The former CIA director explains how he worked closely with Clinton when she was secretary of state and how he found her to be “prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.”
Morell gives Clinton high marks for her performance, noting that most of the times he interacted with her were in the White House Situation Room. He talks about how she was an early supporter of the proposed raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, when some others on the National Security Council were opposed. And he says that he is comfortable with Clinton’s ability to make the decision of whether or not to send U.S. troops into harm’s way.
By contrast, Morell has nothing good to say about Trump. He points out that Trump has no national security experience, and some of the things he has said and done during the campaign to become the GOP nominee would make him a “poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.”
As an intelligence officer, Morell understands how spycraft works, and he touches on the relationship between Russian strongman and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, and Trump. He says,
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.
Remember how the right kept insisting that Barack Obama was a “Manchurian Candidate” — a man who had been brainwashed by the enemy and was like a ticking time bomb, waiting for his handler to “detonate” him? From what Morell says about Trump and Putin, it sounds as if the GOP candidate could be something like what some conservatives claimed Obama would be. He points out that Trump repeatedly praises Putin as a “great leader,” and says Trump has taken positions on policy that support Russian, not American interests.
Morell doesn’t hold back in his assessment of the connection between Trump and the Russian president:
In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.
The op-ed concludes with an observation about Trump’s desire to ban Muslims from the U.S. Morell says Muslims have played a critical role in the safety of America. He notes that the man, who he says can’t be identified, who is largely responsible for keeping America safe since the 9/11 attacks is a Muslim.
Morell concludes with one more unambiguous statement about where he is coming from, and why he believes what he has explained in his editorial to be true:
My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images