Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA counter-terrorism officer and Chief House policy director, appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper on Wednesday to discuss Donald Trump being given classified national security briefings.
Earlier in the day, Donald Trump said that he didn’t necessarily trust the people who provide national intelligence, and Tapper asked McMullin’s reaction.
“If there’s anyone who shouldn’t with regard to intelligence, it’s Donald Trump, both in the literal sense and with regard to our intelligence services,” McMullin declared before making the case that Donald Trump is being manipulated, either knowingly or unknowingly, by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer under what was then the USSR, a communist country.
“He shouldn’t have access to these briefings,” McMullin continued. “These briefings contain — or can contain — highly sensitive information about some of our most sensitive and important information and operations in some cases.”
McMullin then told Tapper that Donald Trump wouldn’t be able to get national security clearance if he were applying for a job at the CIA, making the case that he should therefore not be trusted with the information as the next president.
“Hopefully, we’re not sharing everything we could be with him because he wouldn’t even be able to secure a security clearance if he were applying for a low-level job at the CIA, let alone is he qualified to receive very sensitive information,” he asserted.
“Why do you say that? Why do you think he wouldn’t be able to get a low-level security clearance?” Tapper asked.
“Because he’s co-opted by Vladimir Putin,” the former CIA officer said. “He doesn’t realize it — or maybe he does and doesn’t care — but he’s manipulated by Vladimir Putin and he has built a team that is sympathetic, and more than sympathetic has deep ties to the Kremlin. I mean, this is the sort of thing that any counter-intelligence person at the Central Intelligence Agency would immediately flag and immediately cite for cause in denying someone a security clearance.”
Jake Tapper then asked a clarifying question, asking specifically what Evan McMullin was referring to — if he was referring to prior praise Trump had lavished on Putin, or perhaps Russia-linked Paul Manafort or retired General Michael Flynn, who is a loyal supporter of Trump’s.
“I’m talking about all of them. Donald Trump himself has financial ties to oligarchs in Russia who are close to Putin. Manafort’s business dealings have been well-documented over the last couple of days.
[Michael] Flynn is such a disappointing case. There’s a guy who’s on the payroll of the Kremlin through his engagement with RT [Russia Today] America.
This is a team of Russian co-optees. They deserve to be nowhere near our intelligence information whatsoever.”
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