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 TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement 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.Don TrumpDonald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents Trump Jr. shares edited video showing father knocking Biden down with golf ball MORE, current White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBlack community group loses bid to acquire downtown LA Mall despite highest offer Kushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 MORE and then-campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei Former bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job 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 ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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