— -- A former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency says Donald Trump has been unwittingly "played" by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a skilled former Soviet intelligence officer.
Michael Morell told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on "This Week" on Sunday that Putin "played this perfectly. He saw that Donald Trump wanted to be complimented [so] he complimented him."
"And Donald Trump didn't even understand, right, that Putin was playing him,” added Morell, a former acting and deputy CIA director. “So, in Putin’s mind, I have no doubt he thinks that he's an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation, although Putin would never say that."
Raddatz was questioning Morell about his op-ed published in The New York Times on Friday in which Morell endorsed Clinton and said Trump had responded to compliments as Putin had calculated -- by ignoring the Russian leader's alleged killing and jailing of journalists and political opponents as well as voicing support for positions consistent with Russian and not American interests, such as the annexation of Crimea.
Morell wrote in The New York Times that Trump is “not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”
In contrast, he wrote that Clinton "is highly qualified to be commander-in-chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe."
During his career at the CIA, Morell served under presidents from both parties. He is not registered as a Democrat or Republican, and noted in his op-ed that in the past he has voted for candidates of both parties.