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Story highlights

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Donald Trump was 'being dumb'

His comments refer to remarks Trump gave encouraging Russia to hack Clinton

(CNN) —  

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that Donald Trump wasn’t being “sarcastic” when he suggested Russia hack into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but instead, “he’s being dumb.”

The famously blunt Democratic leader dismissed Trump’s defense, after the Republican came under fire for suggesting Russian hackers should look for Clinton’s missing emails.

“He’s being dumb,” Reid told CNN’s Manu Raju in an interview at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. “Donald Trump can’t control his mouth, can’t control his brain. He’s proven that time after time.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Reid lashed out at Trump, said the Democratic National Committee had been “unfair” to Bernie Sanders, defended Clinton’s email use and even suggested that he may return to practicing law after concluding his three-decade Senate career.

But he left his sharpest comments for Trump, even suggesting that he was propping up the businessman in the primary to help Democrats have an easier path in the fall.

“He’s made a complete fool of himself and quite frankly to be very candid with you, I was always hoping Donald Trump would win,” Reid said. “I think we should just accept Donald Trump for what he is – he’s just not a good presidential candidate.”

The Senate’s top Democrat also said Trump should be given “fake” intelligence briefings.

“It’s obvious he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s obvious he can’t control his mind or his tongue. And what I’ve suggested is now, because he’s the nominee for the party, and he’s entitled to briefings from the CIA for example, I said publicly give him fake briefings,” Reid said. “It means they’ll tell him stuff, he won’t know the difference.”

Reid noted that he has attended briefings similar to the ones each nominee is set to receive and said he thinks the CIA knows that Trump will be a danger to the nation.

Trump said Russian hackers should be enlisted to find the 33,000 emails missing from Clinton’s private email server.

Trump’s comments Wednesday whipped up a furious response, but he told Fox News Thursday that he was “being sarcastic” and didn’t mean it.

Reid, who is retiring at the end of his term, also said he would likely return to practicing law after he finishes his run in the Senate. Reid has been known for his sharp jabs at opponents throughout his tenure, but he also addressed the divide inside his own party which has been on display throughout the week in Philadelphia.

“I can still be a lawyer, I can still do some good things,” Reid said. “I have a lot of offers from a lot of different people.”

But he ruled out working in a Clinton administration or becoming a lobbyist.

“Rather than be a lobbyist I’d rather be taken to Singapore and caned. I like lobbyists, but I’m not going to be one,” he said.

Reid, who has often acted as an intermediary between Bernie Sanders and the Democratic establishment, was critical of the Democratic National Committee after the emails leaked at the beginning of the week rocked the convention.

Reid said that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have resigned “at least six weeks before she did.”

“A lot of people who were running the DNC were not fans of Bernie. And I think that one of the difficult things we have whenever we have a primary election, is the party should be fair,” Reid told CNN. “It would be better if Bernie were treated a little better by the people that run the DNC.”

But Reid also played down protests from angry Sanders delegates, including Tuesday’s walkout from the arena after Clinton secured the nomination.

“I was concerned three days ago when I learned some of the Bernie people walked out of the convention,” Reid said. “But I checked it out, there’s less than a hundred. There’s thousands and thousands of people in this great arena. Bernie has done a good job of telling his supporters, look, it’s more important that we beat Donald trump than continue this battle.”

Reid told CNN earlier this year that he admired Trump’s unpredictable style and that he sometimes reminded him of himself. But on Thursday he said a few months had passed since he praised Trump and “during that time he’s made a complete fool of himself.”

“I was always hoping Donald Trump would win. So I was trying to not consider him the fool he’s turned out to be in the primary. So I’m glad he won the primary,” he said.

The top Senate Democrat broke with President Barack Obama on their party’s message about Trump. In his Wednesday night speech Obama suggested that Trump’s vision isn’t the Republican Party’s.

Reid said he “disagreed” with Obama and told CNN: “I think (Trump) represents the modern Republican Party … they’ve created Donald Trump.”

Asked about Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who is running for Senate and is facing a firestorm after Politico reported earlier this week that his ex-wife reported him to law enforcement for domestic abuse incidents, Reid didn’t mince words.

“All I say is, ‘I told you so.’ That guy is a loose cannon,” Reid said. Earlier this year, he called for Grayson to drop out of the primary race against Rep. Patrick Murphy because of reports he inappropriately ran his hedge fund while serving in Congress.

On the latest reports, Reid said: “You can’t have a person running for Senate who whacks his wife around.”

Asked if he won in the primary whether Democrats would back him, Reid said: “There’s not a chance in hell that he’s going to win the primary.”

As he approaches his final months of a long career in the Senate, Reid said: “I’m not an emotional guy.”

He didn’t originally plan to step down after this year, but a severe accident that caused him to lose the vision in one eye changed his political plans.

“It’s not something I want to do. It’s something I have to do. I was injured and I can’t do another campaign. I have no regrets about my legislation, other than having voted for the Iraq War,” Reid said.