A former CIA acting director endorsed Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE for president on Friday, calling her Republican rival Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE unqualified and a threat to national security.
In a New York Times op-ed, Michael Morell, who worked under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, called Trump an "unwitting agent" of Russia.
Morell said he was not registered with either political party, and that he has voted for both Republicans and Democrats. He said he was ending his silence over his political preferences because he viewed Trump as a threat to national security.
"Mr. [Vladimir] Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated," Morell wrote.
He then criticized Trump for praising Putin.
"Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin," Morell wrote.
"Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
"In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
Morell went on to criticize the business mogul's previous call to bar Muslims from entering the country, saying it contradicts the foundational values of the U.S. and plays into the hands of the jihadist narrative.
"In fact, many Muslim Americans play critical roles in protecting our country, including the man, whom I cannot identify, who ran the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center for nearly a decade and who I believe is most responsible for keeping America safe since the Sept. 11 attacks," he wrote.
"My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president."
Morell said Clinton would deliver on the most important duty of a president — "keeping our nation safe" — and that she found her to be "prepared, detail-oriented and thoughtful" when working with her in the past.
Trump has unnerved a number of foreign policy experts with his positions, leading some Republicans, including Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser to former President George H.W. Bush, to say they will back Clinton.