Do voters grasp the significance of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal and her mishandling of classified information? One certainly does — and he knows the Clintons all too well. James Woolsey served as CIA director under Bill Clinton during his first term, and he knows enough to tell the rest of us that Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted with the nation’s security. In fact, he’s joining Team Trump as an adviser for that reason:
“She demonstrated a complete lack of understanding and an inability to lead the agency she headed in such a way as to maintain its mission and security,” Woolsey said in a statement.
“Based on the emails thus far released we know that Secretary Clinton also lacks the ability to lead her senior managers while complying with and maintaining the basic protocols designed to protect our government’s sensitive and classified information. Mr. Trump understands the magnitude of the threats we face and is holding his cards close to the vest.”
As Politico’s Brianna Ehley points out, Trump isn’t the first Republican Woolsey has endorsed. He also publicly supported John McCain in 2008, although his endorsement didn’t have much impact. This is a different situation; Woolsey worked directly for Bill Clinton for two years, and presumably had some contact with Hillary Clinton. Despite that familiarity — or maybe because of it? — Woolsey has chosen the less-experienced Trump as the safer national-security bet.
Woolsey went on CNN to discuss his endorsement, and got a tough reception. In this interview, Woolsey focused more on Hillary’s budget proposals than on the e-mail scandal:
Woolsey appeared on CNN shortly after the announcement, saying he joined the Trump campaign because he favors the Republican candidate’s defense budget proposal. Trump has proposed to lift the caps on defense spending. Woolsey also advised Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign.
“He seems to be very much more so than his opponent in favor of a strong defense budget and we have got a lot of space to make up, problems that have been left in defense by the Obama administration,” Woolsey said on CNN Monday, adding that Trump is more willing to keep classified information private.
“He seems willing to keep a secret and not to blab everything to the public and our opponents. You can’t go yakking about everything you’re interested in. You have to keep your counsel,” Woolsey said.
CNN hosts Kate Bolduan and John Berman tried to shake Woolsey by asking some odd questions about whether he “likes” Donald Trump, and suggested that Trump blabbed secrets by talking about the briefers’ body language. “I wouldn’t suggest body language is classified,” Woolsey quipped. They then tried to pin Woolsey down on specific examples of Hillary “blabbing,” apparently unaware of the irony of that question in light of Hillary’s e-mail server and her professed incomprehension of classifications and security protocols. Had they read Woolsey’s statement, they might have already had an answer to that question.