Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMenendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election MORE on Sunday said that claims by former U.S. intelligence officials that President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE is being played by Russian President Vladimir Putin are "ridiculous."
“Well, in all due respect to your previous guests, I think that those were the most ridiculous statements. President Trump is not getting played by anybody," Mnuchin said on CNN’s "State of the Union."
He added that Putin is key to addressing a series of important issues.
Mnuchin's remarks come after former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper indicated earlier on the show that Putin is fooling the president through flattery and manipulation.
"I think he's giving Putin a pass. And I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint,” Brennan told host Jake Tapper.
When Tapper asked if Clapper agrees, he replied, "I do."
"He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all this, all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office. And I think that — that appeals to him, and it — I think it plays to his insecurities. And, yes, I do think both the Chinese and Russians think they can play him,” Clapper said.
Trump on Saturday blasted Brennan and Clapper, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, for their assessment that Moscow interfered in last year's election, calling them “political hacks” and claiming that the probes into Russian interference are a “Democratic hit job.”
The president also said he is not going to "argue" with Putin about whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election, instead signaling he wants to move forward and see if the two countries can work together on issues like the civil war in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine.
“I can’t stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine," he told reporters on Air Force One during his five-nation, 12-day trip to Asia.
"President Trump was focused on some very important issues, which are North Korea and Syria. And those are areas that we need to work together with Russia and get them on board with our strategy,” Mnuchin added.