Panetta defends McMaster: Trump should not surround himself with ‘yes men’

Panetta defends McMaster: Trump should not surround himself with ‘yes men’
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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Friday, saying that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE should avoid surrounding himself with people who are afraid to push back against him.

In an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room," Panetta told Wolf Blitzer that the president should avoid surrounding himself with "yes men" who are unwilling to express "different opinions" to him.

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"It's important that the president not surround himself with 'yes men,' " the Obama-era Cabinet secretary said.

"Any president needs to have people who are willing to express different opinions and to inform him about the full range of issues that need to be developed," he added.

Panetta said that, to be a good leader, Trump must be willing to listen to his advisers and know when to take their advice over his own instinct.

“He needs to have different viewpoints, he needs to have different opinions ... and be strong enough to listen to those different views, even if he doesn't agree with them," Panetta added during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Panetta went on to question how members of Trump's Cabinet could perform their jobs successfully with the threat of firings constantly overhead, referring to Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonJuan Williams: The high price of working for Trump Graham jokes to Pompeo: You're the 'longest-serving member of the cabinet, right?' Trump moves to install loyalists MORE's ouster this week and news that McMaster could be next.

"He's got his head under a guillotine,” Panetta said of White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE. “The same is true for H.R. McMaster.”

Panetta also asserted that Trump enjoyed operating in "chaos."

"It appears this president likes to operate by chaos," he said. "To keep staff constantly concerned about whether or not they'll have a job. I'm not quite sure I understand that, I think stability is a better course for the White House."

Trump announced this week that Tillerson would be replaced at the State Department by CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump admin announces new restrictions on travel to Cuba Russia is gaining influence in Libya: How will Washington respond? Trump reverses policy, allows lawsuits against businesses in Cuba MORE, and is reportedly eyeing replacements for other top administration officials, including Kelly and McMaster.