Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, and Mike Vickers, the former undersecretary of defense, took Trump to task in a Washington Post editorial published Saturday. Chief among their concerns is Trump’s seemingly unwavering support for Putin, who the two argue has “repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States.”
“Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners,” Vickers and Morell said. “He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.”
“I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader,” Trump said of Putin. “I mean, you can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing’ ― the man has very strong control over a country.”
But “control over a country” has been at the expense of the Russian people themselves, Morell and Vickers argued.
At home, Putin has jailed and killed political opponents. He has jailed and killed journalists. He has neutered the Russian media to the point that he is in complete control of the message reaching the Russian people. He has the popularity that you so admire only because he determines what the Russian people hear about him and his government. Do you support Putin’s violation of Russian law and his tramping of the civil rights of his populace, explicitly protected in the Russian constitution?
Well, Trump, do you?
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.