Tony Blinken: We have to have a president who knows better

Trump, White House on defensive over Russia
Trump, White House on defensive over Russia

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Trump, White House on defensive over Russia 02:24

Washington (CNN)He should have known better -- this was how Tony Blinken responded to President Donald Trump's most recent headline-grabbing missteps.

"It's one thing to say, 'Look, you know, he didn't know, he couldn't know, this is not his background, this is not where he comes from,'" Blinken told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. "But unfortunately it is now his number one responsibility to know better as President the United States."
Blinken, the former deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama, called reports that Trump directed then-FBI director James Comey to stop his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn "a real problem." Even if Trump was motivated by trying to help his friend, Blinken explained, it was "totally, totally inappropriate."
"He's the President of the United States. We have to have a president who knows better," he said.
As first reported by The Washingotn Post, sources confirmed to CNN that the President reportedly shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Although Trump did not directly reveal the source of the information, intelligence officials told CNN that there is concern that Russia would be able to figure out the highly sensitive source.
Still, Blinken noted that he's "perfectly willing to accept" that Trump was not fully briefed on the intelligence he shared with Russian officials, as national security adviser H.R. McMaster explained at a press briefing Tuesday.
"But he should have been," Blinken said.
Blinken is worried that this disclosure of information could imperil future intelligence-sharing between the US and its allies. He said in the past, countries could be assured that their intelligence would be kept "very, very, very tightly compartmentalized" -- only shared with the President.
"That used to be something that would give them confidence," Blinken said. Moreover, Blinken said he believes that the latest White House crises play into the chaos that Russia has worked to sow since the election.
"[Putin] managed to sow doubt about our electoral system. He managed to help defeat the candidate that he despised Hillary Clinton. He managed to get the first national security adviser adviser fired," Blinken said. "He managed to instigate instigate multiple counterintelligence investigations and now he's managed in effect to cause the president to fire the FBI director who is investigating him because of concerns about collusion with Russia."
"Every step along the way, either knowingly or not, wittingly or not, President Trump has aided and abetted this effort at delegitimizing our institutions and our leaders," he said.
To hear the whole conversation with Blinken, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.