The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency took President-elect Donald Trump to task for his continuing refusal to heed warnings from US intelligence experts that Russia attacked America's 2016 election.
Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, said on Wednesday (7 December) that "the president-elect is factually incorrect" when it comes to his understanding of Russia's involvement of hacks on the Democratic party over the summer.
Hayden spoke in New York at talk about the future of cybersecurity hosted by The Wall Street Journal. He responded to an interview published the same day by Time Magazine that named Trump "person of the year."
In the article the president-elect flat out denied the idea that Russia hacked his Democratic opponent. "I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered," Trump said when asked if Russia was behind hacks that stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign that were then published by Wikileaks.
Technical analysis by security experts, and a joint statement the US Director of National Intelligence in October, all linked the cyber intrusions to Russia. "Only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized" them, it said.
When asked if these statements by intelligence officials were politically driven, Trump said: "I think so."
Any attempt "by a foreign power to undermine our elections is a direct attack on our country, and it should chill every Member of Congress and American – red or blue – to the core," said Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings in a blog post Wednesday. The ranking minority member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called for a bipartisan Senate commission to investigate Russia'a influence on the election and make recommendations for the future.
Hayden, who headed the CIA between 2006 and 2009 and directed the National Security Agency between 1999 and 2005, said in New York that Trump's claims about Russia gave him cause for concern.
"The theft of the DNC emails is actually honourable international espionage," he said, although Russia then "weaponized" them to attack Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by leaking them.
"If [Tump] governs in any way consistent with the language he used as a candidate, I would be very, very concerned," he said.
Hayden approved Trump's pick of retired Lt. General Michael T Flynn as national security adviser, saying he has a "wonderful intelligence record, tactically, operationally and chasing terrorists." And Hayden said he was "delighted" by the president-elect's nomination of retired General James Mattis, who commanded Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq before becoming and headed the United States Central Command, for defense secretary.