Independent presidential candidate and a former CIA operations officer Evan McMullin on Friday said Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE may be lavishing praise on Russia and its leader because he’s being blackmailed.


"You know I hear from my old intelligence friends that Donald Trump has been engaged in some activities in Russia that Vladimir Putin may be using to blackmail Trump," McMullin said in an interview with CNN.

Trump and his campaign have repeatedly praised Putin as a “stronger” leader than President Obama, and on Thursday the real estate mogul gave an interview on the state-owned outlet Russia Today.

"So there is a lot that's going on there that I don't think has come to light fully. But the proof is in the pudding as they say,” McMullin said.

After McMullin was pressed to provide evidence for his claims, the third party candidate pointed to Trump’s campaign appointments and hiring, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign amid scrutiny of his relationship with the former pro-Moscow government in Ukraine.

"The proof is in who he has appointed on his staff. He's got General [Michael] Flynn, who's on the payroll of RT America, which is a Russian cable network owned by the Russian government and who has close ties to Vladimir Putin."

"He's got other staffers — his former campaign manager... so the proof is there and this is absolutely objectionable and an American president should never have these kinds of warped views of a Russian authoritarian like Vladimir Putin."