Panetta Slams Trump’s Russia Comments: ‘It’s Deadly Serious’

PHILADELPHIA– Leon Panetta, the former CIA director and Defense secretary, slammed Donald Trump and the comments that he made Wednesday suggesting the Russians should hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and release them publicly.

“In my over 50 years in public life, this is the screwiest damn election I’ve ever seen,” Panetta said.

After noting that he had served under nine presidents, Republican and Democratic, Panetta said, “This is the first election where there’s only one candidate who has the experience, temperament, the understanding of the world to be commander-in-chief.”

Panetta was speaking at a national security panel hosted at the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Democratic convention.

“The other candidate doesn’t have any experience, doesn’t know the world, shoots from the hip,” Panetta continued. “He shot from the hip today in asking for Russians to do a cyber attack against the United States, for God’s sakes.”

Earlier Wednesday at a press conference, Trump urged Russia to “find the 33,000 emails that are missing,” a reference to the Clinton’s personal email server. The comment came as experts have suggested that Russia was involved in a recent hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. Trump has spoken positively about Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign.

“It’s serious. It’s deadly serious,” Panetta said, of how Trump’s campaign has played out on the world stage. “What he has said has already represented a threat to our national security.”

Panetta was not the only one to criticize Trump for his rhetoric on foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Trump’s entire candidacy raised national security issues and said that when she appeared on recent panels abroad, she was asked about his suggestion that he would back out of the U.S.’s NATO commitments.

“I tried to explain that we had not lost our mind,” Albright said.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), meanwhile, relayed concerns about Trump’s statements raised by troops he visited in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I never talk about politics… but one of the troops brought politics up,” Moulton, a former Marine, said.

Jake Sullivan — the Clinton campaign’s top foreign policy advisor, who previously worked in Obama administration on nuclear negotiations with Iran — linked Trump’s behavior with other Republicans. He referenced particularly the letter Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and 46 other Senate Republicans signed to the Iranian leaders warning them a GOP president might not honor the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and the Obama administration.

“Even before Donald Trump came on the scene we were already sliding down a hill,” Sullivan said.

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