Michael Hayden, the ex-director of the National Security Agency and former head of the CIA, criticized Donald Trump on Tuesday for saying that “Second Amendment people” could stop Hillary from nominating Supreme Court justices. If someone “outside of the hall” said the same thing, Hayden argued, that person would “be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him.”
“It suggests either a very bad taste reference to political assassination and an attempt at humor, or an incredible insensitivity,” Hayden said on CNN’s The Lead With Jake Tapper, via Media Matters. “It may be the latter, an incredible insensitivity to the prevalence of political assassination inside of American history, and how that is a topic that we don’t ever come close to, even when we think we’re trying to be light-hearted.”
Hayden has been critical of Trump before and was among the 50 national security leaders who signed a letter opposing his candidacy.
Tapper brought up the arrest of a man who sought to assassinate Donald Trump a few weeks ago.
“Well, let me say if someone else said that outside of the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him,” Hayden said of Trump’s remarks.
Trump made the comment at a rally in North Carolina Tuesday. He said there is “nothing you can do” if Clinton is able to pick Supreme Court justices.
“Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is,” he said.
His campaign has since argued that he was referring to the political power of Second Amendment supporters.
“I used to tell my seniors at the CIA, you get to a certain point in this business, you’re not just responsible for what you say, you are responsible for what people hear,” Hayden said on CNN.
The Secret Service confirmed to TPM’s Katherine Krueger that it was aware of Trump’s remarks, but said it was not planning on issuing a statement.
- -Hiring More Journalists
- -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism