Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) attends a ceremony at a Russian Chapel at the Vrsic mountain pass in northern Slovenia, on July 30, 2016. (AFP photo)
A former top CIA official has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of recruiting US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as an “unwitting agent” of Moscow.
In an article published by the New York Times on Friday, former CIA acting director Michael Morell endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president and called Trump unqualified and a threat to America’s national security.
Morell, who worked under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said he had voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past, but decided to end his silence over his political preferences because he considered Trump as a threat to national security.
"Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated," Morell wrote.
The CIA official then censured Trump for praising the Russian leader.
"Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin," Morell wrote.
He accused Trump of adopting policy positions “consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.”
"In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” Morell wrote.
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event on July 28, 2016 in Davenport, Iowa. (AFP photo)
Hillary Clinton looks on before she speaks at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Hall on August 4, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP photo)
Morell went on to say that America “will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president."
He said the former secretary of state would keep “our nation safe," and that she found her to be "prepared, detail-oriented ad thoughtful" when working with her in the past.
A new poll shows that Clinton has taken a 15-percentage point lead over Trump in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential race.
According to the McClatchy-Marist survey released on Thursday, she has 48 percent of the votes as compared to the New York billionaire businessman having only a 33-percent support.