Former CIA Director Leon Panetta on Tuesday said President Trump’s rationalization for sharing highly classified intelligence with Russia undermines the credibility of the Oval Office.
“The problem that really bothers me is that it undermines the credibility of the office of the presidency. He is president of the United States. He is not a reality TV star. He’s not just another personality. He’s president of the United States,” Panetta told CNN’s “New Day.”
Panetta, who also served as secretary of Defense under former President Barack Obama, said Trump needs to “deep down understand” his responsibility as commander in chief.
“What bothers me here is that the president of the United States, an office that I respect throughout my life, I just think this president has to understand that he cannot just say whatever the hell he wants and expect that it doesn’t carry consequences.”
The White House has been under fire since late Monday when The Washington Post first reported that Trump shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week.
Trump early Tuesday insisted that he had “the absolute right” to share the information about an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria plot with Russia.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining…to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Panetta during his TV appearance said Trump must understand the responsibility he holds as president.
“He’s got to have some responsibility to the office and to the American people and to our national security,” Panetta said.