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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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 TillersonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration 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 Pompeo2 US service members killed in Afghanistan after Pompeo visit The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? State Department need not be at odds with itself on Republic of Cyprus policy MORE, and is reportedly eyeing replacements for other top administration officials, including Kelly and McMaster.