Michael J. Morell

Illustration by Max Fleishman

Trump has yet to respond.

A former top CIA official, who says he is usually silent about his preference for president, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Friday, saying electing Donald Trump would be “damaging to our national security.”

In an editorial for the New York Times, Michael Morell, who served as acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013, explained why he believes Clinton is the more qualified candidate. He also said, among other things, that Trump has become a pawn for Russian President Vladimir Putin

“First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief,” Morell wrote. “I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president—keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”

Morell added that Putin—“a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them,” whom Trump has praised as a strong leader—“played” the Republican candidate right into his hands. In doing so, Morell wrote, Trump became an “unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

“Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him,” Morell wrote. “He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.”

“Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.” 

In the essay, Morell acknowledges the time he’s spent working with Clinton when she was secretary of state, describing her as “prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive, and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.”

Trump, on the other hand, has “no experience on national security,” Morell wrote, adding that the character traits Trump exhibited during the primary season suggest that he would be a dangerous choice for president.

“These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law,” Morell wrote.

Morell’s letter comes at a pivotal time in politics, when many top GOP officials have denounced the Republican nominee. There were talks earlier this week that senior GOP officials, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, were looking to replace Trump on the presidential ticket, NBC reports.

Morell's praise of Clinton is particularly salient due to the Democratic nominee's mishandling of classified information on her private email system during her time as secretary of state.

As of publication, Trump has not responded to Morell's piece. 

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