Tags: Barack Obama | Cyber Security | NSA/Surveillance | hayden | rice | accusation | unusual

Michael Hayden on Trump's Susan Rice Charge: 'Very Unusual'

Image: Michael Hayden on Trump's Susan Rice Charge: 'Very Unusual'
Michael Hayden (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 05 Apr 2017 08:02 PM

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's accusation that Susan Rice might have committed a crime regarding incidental intelligence data was "very unusual" but that the former national security adviser's request to unmask of Trump associates was "lawful."

"It's very unusual for a sitting American president to level such a charge," Hayden, who also directed the FBI, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "But on its face, what has gone on here was lawful, appropriate and here's the punch line: pretty routine.

"Not exceptional."

Trump told The New York Times that "I think" Rice might have committed a crime by requesting the identities of his associates mentioned in communications intercepted by spy agencies, though he declined to provide evidence to support his claim.

Rice acknowledged Tuesday that she has sought to "unmask" the identities of the U.S. citizens, but said that it was "not for any political purposes."

"There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals," she told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. "The president of the United States and people in the White House do not have the ability to order such collection."

Rice also denied leaking any information to the media, saying that "I leaked nothing to nobody."

Hayden, 72, a retired four-star Air Force general, said that he was "heartened" by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's terse statement Tuesday on North Korea's latest missile launch.

"The approach of the Obama administration is what they called 'strategic patience' — and, frankly, at the time, I thought that actually showed some wisdom," he told Blitzer.

"Now, they have gotten a lot more dangerous, so strategic patience has outlived its usefulness.

"That doesn't mean there's a lot of options going forward," he cautioned. "It's not because the president's predecessors were lazy, stupid or inept.

"This is a tough one."

However, the best approach in dealing with Pyongyang is to "punish Chinese firms for dealing with the North Koreans.

"That's dramatic — and the Chinese are going to complain and we're probably going to have to give up other things we want to impose on the Chinese," Hayden said.

"I mean, this is a package. There's a reason that the wicked problem is still around."

Turning to President Trump removing chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council, Hayden said "that's a good thing.

"We've swung back to normal," by also adding these members: the directors of national intelligence and the CIA, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"That's the traditional structure," he said. "If I were in the meeting with Mr. Bannon, I would think that's kind of the political commissar at the end of the table — and there is another struggle going on."

Hayden said that the changes showed Trump broadening his close group of advisers.

"I think the president is detached from the government and is relying on a small group of family and friends for core guidance.

"This is a step in the right direction to connect the president through H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, to the tens of thousands of aides who really do want to make him succeed."

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Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's accusation that Susan Rice might have committed a crime regarding incidental intelligence data was "very unusual" but that the former national security adviser's request to unmask of Trump...
hayden, rice, accusation, unusual, unmasking, lawful
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2017-02-05
Wednesday, 05 Apr 2017 08:02 PM
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