As everyone remembers, the U.S. intelligence agencies made a surprising move by showing a very critical stance against Donald Trump during the campaign and presidential transition. While most of the mainstream media praised these actions and pointed out that every prominent member of these agencies agreed, a dissident voice finally came out. And far from being an irrelevant figure, the person who decided to criticize what took place during that time was former acting CIA Director Michael Morell.
After serving in this significant position in two different opportunities, Morell left the agency back in 2013. In fact, the most interesting detail is that he actually endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in an August 2016 New York Times op-ed.
According to an interview released by Politico yesterday, he told reporter Susan Glasser that getting involved wasn’t a mistake. However, he assured that there were serious downsides to it that he didn’t think about at that time.
After pointing out that the intelligence agencies were too harsh to Trump, Morell explained that he was really concerned about what was the impact this would have on the CIA. In addition, he said that while he was very concerned about that, he didn’t think he fully “thought through the implications.”
In a very interesting part of the interview, Morell told Glasser that the best move is to put in Donald Trump’s shoes and ask what he sees. Morell assured Trump saw at that moment a former director NSA and a former director of the CIA criticizing him and his policies.
Naturally, these were some surprising moves considering how rare it is for prominent members of intelligence agencies to publicly endorse a candidate by criticizing the other. In fact, this was quite shocking since at that time the controversy of Hillary Clinton’s emails was at its boiling point.
Morell asserted that former NSA director Mike Hayden made a wrong move with his public declarations against Trump. However, he pointed out he has the greatest respect for him considering the time both shared as the leaders of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the United States.
The former CIA director told the Politico reporter that considering these actions, Trump could rightfully have said: Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?’After all, this kind of situation is not exactly the common denominator in U.S. politics every time there´s a race for the White House.
Morell said that everyone should ask how Trump felt when he saw a former acting director and deputy director of the CIA brutally criticizing him and passionately endorsing his rival. Additionally, he asked the reporter how she believes Trump felt after he got his first intel briefing, after becoming the nominee of the Republican party.
Also, he assured everyone should ask how Trump felt when less than three days after that, there were leaks out that were critical of him and his then-national security advisor Michael Flynn. Naturally, Morell was referring to an NBC report that pointed out how Flynn was repeatedly interrupting some briefers during the session.
The former CIA acting director told Politico that uniting all of these pieces shows a very dark picture that Trump clearly saw during those days. Morell assured that the Republican must have come to the conclusion that these “intelligence guys” were being extremely political and were playing in Hillary’s favor.
In order to provide a clear example of how some of these figures were being quite political, Morell pointed out how the current director at the time, John Brennan, occasionally would push back on things that Trump had said during the campaign.
— Jo Anne moretti (@JoAnneMoretti) December 12, 2017
After explaining these issues, Morell continued to reference leaked reports during the interview. He told Glasser that Trump didn’t get a daily brief from the moment he became the president-elect, which was a really problematic situation. In fact, he explained things got worse since within a few days later there were leaks about how he was not taking these briefings.
Basically, Morell told the Politico reporter the intelligence agencies were playing with him. Naturally, this is a really concerning issue for anyone that is arriving at the White House considering the power and influence these agencies have. This way, Morell said it is logical that Trump could believe at that time these figures were nothing more than a political organization showing its claws.
The former CIA director concluded the interview by saying: “So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don’t know. But it’s something I didn’t think about.”