Former National Security Officials Blast Trump’s Russian Hacking Comments

“Shocking and dangerous,” says one former admiral.

Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden criticizd Trump's remarks.Luis M. Alvarez/AP

After Donald Trump appeared to invite Russian hackers to retrieve emails deleted by Hillary Clinton, former national security officials are blasting Trump for seemingly encouraging spying by a foreign government.

At a press conference in Miami on Wednesday, the Republican presidential nominee said he hoped Russian hackers would try to dig up Clinton’s deleted emails. The Clinton campaign quickly slammed Trump for the comments, saying in a statement, “This has the be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.” It didn’t take long for major players in the national security sphere to join in.

  • Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, criticized Trump in comments to Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake.

  • Adm. James Stavridis, who was once the highest-ranking officer in the Navy and was briefly mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Clinton, called Trump’s comments “shocking and dangerous” in an interview with the Guardian. “In addition to the obvious domestic political implications of essentially inviting interference in our election, they will further undermine European confidence in the reliability of the US as an ally—particularly in the face of Russian adventurism,” he said.
  • Former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed shock at Trump’s statements. “I find those kinds of statements to be totally outrageous,” he told CNN.

  • Mike Vickers, a well-known former CIA officer and Pentagon official, wrote a column for Politico Magazine that dismantled all aspects of Trump’s foreign policy. “America today faces three principal national security threats,” Vickers wrote, “from radical Islamists, who seek to terrorize Americans and overthrow the existing order in the Middle East; from a resurgent Russia, which seeks to reassert its dominance over the former Soviet Empire and overthrow the existing order in Europe; and from a rising China, which seeks suzerainty in Asia. In all three areas, Trump has shown a limited grasp of the nature of the threat and has proposed strategies that would make America less secure.”