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Michael Hayden, former CIA boss, warns against impeaching Donald Trump

August 24, 2018

Michael V. Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency, cautioned against removing President Trump from office in an interview that aired Friday.

“I think impeachment would be a bad idea,” Mr. Hayden told Hill.TV.

“If President Trump is somehow forced to leave office before the end of his first term [...] one-third of America will believe it was a soft coup,” added Mr. Hayden, a career intelligence official who retired in 2009 after leading the CIA under former President Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

An outspoken critic of the president, Mr. Hayden warned against impeachment in light of prosecutors securing convictions this week against Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former personal attorney and election campaign chairman, respectively.

“I think the only way we move beyond this in any way that’s healthy for our democracy is we vote,” he added.

Other critics of the president have been less reserved that Mr. Hayden, however, citing Tuesday’s convictions as reason to expect Mr. Trump’s removal.

“It does cause the countdown to impeachment to accelerate,” Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat, told The Hill this week.

“These are real charges of criminal behavior,” Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, said in a statement. “These are based on real facts, real evidence and real testimony, and in the final analysis all of this will lead to real articles of impeachment.”

Mr. Hayden, 73, signed a letter last week denouncing Mr. Trump after the president revoked the security clearance of fellow critic and former CIA boss John Brennan over alleged “erratic conduct and behavior.”

“The president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech,” Mr. Hayden and several other former intelligence officials wrote in the letter.

Mr. Trump is weighing whether to similarly revoke the security clearances of Mr. Hayden and several other former government officials, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week.

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