Tags: Russia | michael hayden | russia | interference | election

Hayden: Russian Influence Campaign 'Biggest One I've Ever Seen'

(MSNBC)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 01:57 PM

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday he's done covert influence operations during his career, but the matter of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election is the "biggest one I've ever seen."

"The easiest covert campaigns are the ones that try to reinforce pre-existing fractures in a society rather than to create a fracture," Hayden, now a principal with the Chertoff Group, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "We had pre-existent fractures within our political system. It was almost an invitation for a talented security service to really put the wedge in there and keep hammering away."

Hayden's comments on Tuesday came during a long panel discussion concerning the testimony given by FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers before the House Intelligence Committee.

He lauded their testimony as being "courageous," saying they took care with their answers before the House Intelligence Committee Monday, and that may be the "long story" when it comes to dealing with White House scandals moving forward, Hayden said.

"They didn't overreach . . . they didn't try to answer questions indirectly or blankly . . . that's what happens when B.S. meets competence and integrity and professionalism," said Hayden. "That actually might be the long story that's going on here. How does the permanent government, as I refer to it, how does it now continue to react to these kind of facts of the moment that keep getting thrown at them?"

When it comes to the discussion concerning connections between Trump's campaign associates and Russians, there are "three baskets of things," said Hayden.

"You've got 'the Russians did do this, right?'" he said. "You had Comey and Rogers stand by the high confidence, all the way up to in including to help him win . . . that's already accepted. Then you've got the behavior of the president and the candidate. That's weird."

Show anchor Joe Scarborough argued that headlines coming from Monday's hearing about the FBI investigating ties between Trump and Russia would not have happened "if three weeks ago, Donald Trump had not tweeted a lie about Barack Obama," and Hayden agreed.

"It put fire in the belly of the folks you saw," Hayden said of Comey and Rogers. "They were both angry. I mean, they subdued it, but they were very, very happy to be there. They wanted to make those statements."

Meanwhile, there remain questions concerning the motives of Trump's former campaign associates such as Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and others, and whether they acted out of malice or they were naive.

"I'd landed in Bulgaria to be at an attache in a communist country and overlapped with my predecessor," Hayden said. "He said, 'Now look, your life here is going to be a lot happier if you remember this rule: never attribute to malice that which can equally be explained by incompetence.'"

"So when they're peeling this back, there are an awful lot of really suspicious things in basket three, you know, Manafort and Stone and so on," Hayden said. "They need to shred out not just the effect the Russians were desiring to create but what was the cause. Was it malice or were these guys just so naïve that they were taken advantage of?"

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Politics
Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday he's done covert influence operations during his career, but the matter of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election is the "biggest one I've ever seen."
michael hayden, russia, interference, election
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2017-57-21
Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 01:57 PM
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