Former CIA chief: Trump's presidency could damage economy

Story highlights

  • Mike Morell served in the CIA for more than 30 years
  • Morell said he believes that a President Donald Trump "would be a threat to the nation"

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works on the podcast.

(CNN)When political populists ride to victory on a wave of economic disaffection, as Donald Trump did so effectively last Tuesday, they often create more damage than they relieve, says the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I've seen this play many, many times watching the rest of the world," Michael Morell told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
"I've seen struggling economies where people are not doing well, and they turn to populist candidates, either on the left or on the right," said Morell.
    "And the history of the countries that I have seen, who have ended up putting in office either a leftist populist or a rightist populist, have fallen further behind economically because those policies on the far-left or the far-right end up undermining the economy further."
    Morell, who served in the CIA for more than 30 years, thrust himself into partisan politics this summer when he endorsed Hillary Clinton's candidacy in a New York Times op-ed in which he also referred to Trump as "an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
    In this more than hour-long conversation, which was taped before the presidential election, Morell expanded on his support for Clinton and on his firm belief that a President Trump "would be a threat to the nation."
    Morell also discussed what he sees as the most rapidly growing threat to US national security: cybersecurity.
    "I think international terrorism is still number one, but I think [cybersecurity] is the fastest growing threat, and it is likely to overtake international terrorism as the most significant threat," Morell warned.
    "This is a new domain," Morell said. "We got to figure out the norms around it. We've got to figure out policy around it."
    To hear the whole conversation with Morell, which also covered his reflections on George W. Bush and Barack Obama after serving both presidents; his journey from being by Bush's side on 9/11 to planning the successful raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden; what he believes is America's most important global relationship today; and much more, click on To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at