Michael Morell, former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, forcefully endorsed Hillary Clinton in a New York Times op-ed published Friday, calling Donald Trump a danger to national security and an “unwitting agent” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Morell spoke to Clinton’s experience as secretary of state, saying the nominee was an “early advocate” for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and favored a “more aggressive” U.S. response to fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
In the column, the 33-year veteran of the CIA drew a stark contrast between Clinton’s experience and Trump’s “obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights” and “lack of respect for the rule of law.”
Trump is “already damaging our national security,” Morell wrote, going on to say Putin is trained to exploit an individual’s vulnerabilities, just as he has done with the real estate mogul.
“Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated,” he said. “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
In an appearance Friday afternoon at a national conference of black and Hispanic journalists, Clinton called Morell a “consummate professional” and said she was honored to have his endorsement, but declined to directly address whether she agreed with his assessment of Trump.
“I will let his comments speak for himself,” she said.
Morell worked closely with both George W. Bush and President Obama. After retiring from the CIA in November 2013, he now works at a consulting firm founded by former top Clinton aides.
You can read his full endorsement over at the New York Times.
This story has been updated.