Former top CIA official: Putin wants Trump to win

Story highlights

  • Ex-CIA acting director Michael Morell says Trump is an 'unwitting agent' of Putin
  • Morell says Putin wants Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton

Washington (CNN)Former CIA acting director Michael Morell again called Donald Trump an "unwitting agent" of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

"He wants Donald Trump to win this election, in part because of the romance that we've seen between the two," Morell, a Clinton supporter, said of Trump in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."
    Calling Putin a "thug" and a "bully," Morell said he believes Putin was behind the hack and release of Democratic National Committee emails, noting the Russian president had used similar tactics in nearby countries and Western Europe in the past.
    He pointed to Trump's praise for Putin as a strong leader and Trump's assertion that Russia could keep the Crimea region -- which it seized from Ukraine -- as evidence that Putin has succeeded in getting Trump to do his bidding.
    "Putin does not believe that Hillary Clinton will be easy on Russia. He believes that she will be tough on Russia," Morell said.
    He said he doesn't believe Putin -- even if he is behind the political hacks -- can ultimately affect the outcome of the November 8 presidential race.
    "He might think he can have an impact at the margins, but I don't believe that's possible," Morell said.
    Morell's comments come the day after The Washington Post published a letter to Trump from Morell and Mike Vickers, the former undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, that was critical of Trump's comments about Putin.
    The two wrote to Trump that "you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin."
    "Demand that Putin stop his aggressive behavior overseas," Morell and Vickers wrote. "Demand that he stop his dictatorial moves at home. Tell him that you will live up to our NATO commitments and defend the Baltics, if need be. Tell him that you want to work with him on solving the problems in the world -- but that he must behave in order to do so. That is what a true commander in chief would do."