Tags: Donald Trump | Trump Administration | michael hayden | trump | words | seriously | definitive

Hayden: I Take Trump's Words 'Seriously,' But Not 'Definitive'

CNN's "New Day"/YouTube

By    |   Tuesday, 08 August 2017 12:59 PM

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday he takes everything President Donald Trump says "seriously," but that doesn't mean that everything that comes out of the White House is "definitive."

"I think that's where most Americans are now, too," Hayden, now a principal with the Chertoff Group, told CNN's "New Day" program. "That's a great sadness, and a danger."

The retired intelligence chief made his comments while discussing North Korea, and while discussing the president's tweet Tuesday of a Fox News story,  which quoted unnamed sources reporting that spy agencies detected North Korea loading anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat.

The tweet drew criticism on CNN and from other networks, who said it was a link to a story based on an unnamed source and that contained potentially classified information.

It's unusual for Trump to tweet such a story, said Hayden.

"It's an echo of what happened in February, when he retweeted, appears to have retweeted accusations that President [Barack] Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower," said Hayden. "He's the president. He can get the answer with a phone call. The same with this."

Such tweets, said Hayden are leading to a lack of credibility from Trump and the White House.

"We saw this coming," Hayden said. "That was one of the great fears of people like me, the announcements, tweets, positions taken by the White House on important and less important issues were going to erode overall confidence in what the president and the White House says."

The world is at the point in which everyone needs to "take America's word for something," said Hayden, but he believes that people are going to "become very skeptical."

Hayden also commented on the decision of government scientists to leak a report, approved by 13 agencies, saying that climate change is real, to The New York Times because they feared the Trump administration would suppress it.

In an unusual break from the Trump administration, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, admitting she had not seen the report, told NBC's "Today" show that climate change "is real."

"The magic word came at the end of your statement there, the word 'leak,'" Hayden told New Day anchor Chris Cuomo. "I'm an intelligence guy. I oppose an awful lot of leaks, certainly any leak of classified information, but what bureaucracies do when they feel as if their views cannot get a fair hearing, is you create pressure, and this kind of information comes out one way or another."

As a result, the Times was able to put the entire report out because, "as you suggest, these folks felt this would not get a fair hearing," said Cuomo. "Not that it had to be accepted, Chris, but that it would not get a fair hearing within the government."

Also on the program, Hayden discussed the growing rhetoric coming from North Korea, which has threatened to make America "pay dearly" for pushing for sanctions approved 15-0 by the UN Security Council.

"We've seen an awful lot of this kind of rhetoric from the North Koreans, so I wouldn't attach any special meaning to it," said Hayden. "Now, that said, the reality behind it is gradually, inexorably changing that they are increasing their capacity to actually do some of the things they're saying. But the rhetoric is pretty standard."

The Obama administration, though, "deserves some fair criticism for their strategic patience, which was frankly paying this problem forward and not solving it on their launch," said Hayden. Instead, it passed the issue on to the Trump administration, and now the "clock's ticking."

"Sanctions are slow moving," said Hayden. "They're like rust as opposed to an explosion which are identical chemical reactions but one obviously takes a lot more time ... the Trump team deserves some credit for getting these sanctions. They are very tough. They kept the Russians on our side. They got the Chinese to agree to them as well, but this will be a slow-moving mechanism."

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Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday he takes everything President Donald Trump says "seriously," but that doesn't mean that everything that comes out of the White House is "definitive."
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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 12:59 PM
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