Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Two former top U.S. intelligence officials said Sunday they fear U.S. President Donald Trump is being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, after Trump said he believed Putin was sincere in denying Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Former CIA Director John Brennan and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper both said Trump was mishandling Moscow ties even as a special counsel investigates possible collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
“I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do, or what might come out as a result of these investigations ... It’s either naivete, ignorance or fear in terms of what Mr. Trump is doing vis-a-vis the Russians,” Brennan said in an appearance with Clapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Clapper added that foreign leaders who roll out the red carpet for Trump are able to manipulate Trump.
“I do think both the Chinese and the Russians think they can play him,” Clapper said.
Their comments came after Trump told reporters over the weekend that he had spoken with Putin again over allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election and that the Russian president again denied any involvement.