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(CNN) —  

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta calls President Donald Trump’s comment referencing a mysterious “calm before the storm” on Thursday a “play for attention.”

“I don’t think it is responsible … but in this instance we probably all should take a deep breath and try to assume that he’s just making a play for attention,” Panetta, who also served as defense secretary, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday. “You begin to assume that it’s more about getting attention than it is about proclaiming some kind of national policy.”

Thursday evening at a photo op for a dinner with military commanders and their spouses, Trump had a cryptic message for reporters, which sent them immediately scrambling for answers.

“You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” Trump said.

After being continuously pressed to clarify his comments, Trump later told reporters, “You’ll find out.”

At the White House press briefing Friday, press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to elaborate on the President’s message.

“As we have said many times before … we’re never going to say in advance what the President’s going to do, and as he said last night in addition to those comments, you’re going to have to wait and see,” Sanders told reporters when asked if he was referring to military action.

Pressed further on how seriously the public and adversaries should take his comments, Sanders replied: “I think you can take the President protecting the American people always extremely serious. He’s been very clear that that’s his No. 1 priority, and if he feels action is necessary, he will take it.”