Washington (CNN)Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's accusation that President Barack Obama does not love America was "not helpful" and "very regrettable," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday.
Johnson: Giuliani's comments 'very regrettable'
"His comments were not helpful," Johnson told Gloria Borger on CNN's "State of the Union."
"And I'm sorry to see statements like that coming from the former mayor whose response to 9/11 in 2001 I admired very much. His response to me is a model for how government leaders should respond in times of crisis," Johnson said. "I think his most recent statements are very regrettable."
Giuliani hired Johnson to become a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in New York in the late 1980s. The two also "did the rounds together," visiting fire stations and police precincts in Manhattan last year, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Johnson said.
But Giuliani's been the subject of a firestorm of criticism -- with some support coming from a few Republicans, as well -- in recent days after making the comment: "I do not believe that the President loves America. He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."