In Brief

Donald Trump ‘being played’ by Putin, former officials say

James Clapper and John Brennan say the president’s stance on Russia puts US in peril

Two former US intelligence chief have warned that Donald Trump is being “played” by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and that his dismissive attitude towards allegations of Russian interference in US elections poses “a peril” to the country.

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director John Brennan spoke up after Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he believed Putin’s assertion that Russia was not involved in meddling with the election.

“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe – I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said on Saturday.

Brennan told CNN that by “not acknowledging to Putin: ‘We know that you’re responsible for this’,” Trump is “giving Putin a pass”.

“I think it demonstrates to Mr Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to be appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint,” he added.

Clapper said the threat posed by Russia was “manifest and obvious” and that “to try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and in fact, poses a peril to this country”.

Trump later tweeted criticism of “haters and fools”: 

Yesterday Trump appeared to retreat from his earlier statement, saying: “As to whether I believe [Putin’s claim] or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership.”

Even so, says The Independent, “the US President did not categorically say Russia was behind the meddling which could have contributed to his ultimate victory, though US intelligence officials have confirmed as much”.

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