Russian President Vladimir Putin "played his cards very shrewdly" Friday by not retaliating against American diplomats in response to President Barack Obama's executive orders on Moscow's hacking, former CIA Director James Woolsey said.
"A situation is developing in which Putin has played his cards very shrewdly," Woolsey, who is advising President-elect Donald Trump on national security issues, told Jim Sciutto on CNN.
"You think this is a chess move by Putin?" Sciutto asked.
"Yes," Woolsey responded — "and the key is we don't want to be playing checkers while they're playing chess."
Putin said Friday that Moscow would not eject American diplomats in response to what he described as "provocation aimed at further undermining Russian-American relations" after Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in response to the hacks.
"We will not expel anybody," Putin said.
Trump praised the Russian president's "great move" on Twitter.
Woolsey said that the critical issue here is that "President Obama has been playing the role of investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury.
"It's one reason why there is some skepticism that the Russians were doing as much as some say," he added.
"It's clear they were doing some important attacks on our system. But what was it? What occurred?"
He added that President Obama's decisions on Russia "haven't been very shrewd" and called Sciutto's observation that Putin might not have retaliated because Trump could reverse the orders after taking office next month "right on."
"There's a real problem in President Obama," Woolsey said. "He's the actor here.
"President-elect Trump is watching and commenting from the sidelines for another three weeks.
"Putin realizes that he'll be president and a very important figure, but decisions that have been made by President Obama haven't been very shrewd."
Woolsey added that Trump's praise of the Kremlin's leader reflected former President Teddy Roosevelt's motto.
"I think it's well within Teddy Roosevelt's dictum of 'speak softly and carry a big stick,'" he said. "He's been speaking softly.
"But that's part of diplomacy."
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