Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, former CIA head John Brennan and ex-Defense Intelligence Agency Director James Clapper fired back at President Donald Trump for calling them "political hacks" because they believe the intelligence community's assessment that Russians meddled in the 2016 election.
Clapper offered his skepticism after President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this weekend, and Trump emerged saying he believed Putin's denial of Russian interference in the US presidential election.
The agency said it would have no further comment.
"And considering the source of the criticism, I consider that criticism a badge of honor".
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During Trump's trip to Asia, Trump told reporters that he believed Putin was being honest when he said at a meeting Saturday in Danang, Vietnam, that Russian Federation had not interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election. "I guess you could go back and say, well, we should have been more aggressive or done something earlier", Clapper said. "Comey is proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker", he added, also referencing former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.
While giving credence to Putin's denials of involvement, Trump simultaneously insinuated that there is doubt about the findings of US intelligence agencies, which have, in fact, determined conclusively that Russian Federation meddled in the elections.
"He said he didn't meddle".
"He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities", Clapper said. "But he says, 'I didn't do that.' I think he is very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Vietnam.
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Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russian Federation meddling issue arose.
Trump was forced to walk back his comments, which appeared to put him at odds with US intelligence agencies which concluded that Russian Federation did try to tamper with our election. "And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it". "And I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint".
Clapper was likely referring to reports over the last two months revealing Russia's extensive use of Facebook and Twitter to create fake accounts, buy ads, spread junk news, and organize divisive rallies across the country in an effort to sow discord leading up to last year's election. "I don't know, but there were good reasons why there was caution and discretion here".
To make things worse, Trump also stated that he believed Putin was honest when denying all allegations to the effect that he had orchestrated the Russian interference. "He said he didn't meddle", Trump said, referring to Putin.
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"The director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment entitled: 'Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.' The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed".