Hayden: Trump Tower meeting had 'classic outlines of a Russian intelligence soft approach'

Former CIA director Michael Hayden said in an interview that aired on Friday that the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin had "the classic outlines of a Russian intelligence soft approach." 

"I mean, nobody passed out business cards that said 'GRU,' but it was a soft approach and no response. No one had the instinct of saying, 'maybe we oughta tell somebody about this, like the FBI," Hayden told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball, referring to the Moscow intelligence agency.

Hayden went on to hit President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE for his campaign's handling of the meeting, which has become a centerpiece in the investigation of Russia's 2016 election meddling.

"If you're running for president of the United States, you want to play in the big leagues? You should know how to hit a big-league curveball, and so you've got at least incompetence, and maybe a real good dose of hubris here. That is short of criminality, I get that," he continued. 

Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDemocrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses Republicans, Trump Jr. signal support for embattled West Virginia governor The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back MORE, current White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Dershowitz: With 'Mideast Marshall plan,' Abbas can help — or hurt — Palestinians Palestinian leaders reject Kushner's economic plan for region MORE and then-campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortREAD: Hannity, Manafort messages released by judge Manafort, Hannity talk Trump, Mueller in previously undisclosed messages FBI, warned early and often that Manafort file might be fake, used it anyway MORE sat down with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at the meeting after British music producer Rob Goldstone told Trump Jr. in an email that she could offer damaging information on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 MORE

Goldstone told Trump Jr. that the information “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

"If it's what you say I love it," Trump Jr. replied

The president has denied that he knew the meeting was taking place at the time. 

However, CNN reported last month that Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was prepared to testify to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE that then-candidate Trump signed off on the meeting. 

Trump responded on Twitter, saying Cohen was "making up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam."

Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance law violations. 

His attorney Lanny Davis said on Wednesday that Cohen witnessed a meeting between Trump and Trump Jr. that was connected to the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. 

Cohen had previously told congressional committees that he was not aware of the meeting in advance. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian election meddling, said on Thursday they want Cohen to testify about the claims he knew about the 2016 meeting before it took place. 

— Julia Manchester