Michael Morell, a former acting director of the CIA, on Sunday linked Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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"In Putin's mind, I have no doubt that Putin thinks that he's an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation, although Putin would never say that," Morell said on ABC's "This Week."

"From Mr. Trump's perspective, right, he simply heard Putin compliment him.  He then responded by complimenting him.  He never thought that he might be being played."

Morell, who last week announced he would support Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE, called Putin "very talented," saying he has "manipulated people much smarter than Donald Trump."

"He played this perfectly, right. He saw that Donald Trump wanted to be complimented," he said.

"He complimented him. That led Donald Trump to then compliment Vladimir Putin and to defend Vladimir Putin's actions in a number of places around the world," he continued.

"And Donald Trump didn't even understand, right, that Putin was playing him."

Clinton's campaign has been attempting to link the GOP nominee to Russia.

Trump has in the past praised the Russian president, and some have raised questions about whether the candidate's refusal to release his tax returns has anything to do with business ties to Russia.