The former North Carolina governor said U.S. officials should not publicly criticize Donald Trump — and he warned they should expect the president-elect to “hit back” when they do.
Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan told Fox News that Trump does not have a “full understanding” of Russia’s power and threat to the world, which prompted the president-elect to accuse the intelligence chief of leaking “fake news” about a dossier exposing his alleged ties to Russia.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory told CNN on Monday morning that Brennan should have called Trump privately instead of criticizing him through the media.
“Our president is a fighter, but also he surrounds himself with a group of very diplomatic, well-qualified, diversified cabinet people,” McCrory said, suggesting that likely United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley would calm Trump down.
McCrory justified Trump’s response to the CIA director’s “very negative comments,” saying again that Americans know “we have a president who fights” but surrounds himself with “calming” advisors such as Mike Pence, the vice president-elect.
“It’s almost like a good cop, bad cop type of situation,” McCrory said.
CNN’s Poppy Harlow refused to let him wriggle off the hook, asking McCrory if Trump could simply make “unsubstantiated” claims whenever he was angry and then ask his advisors to clean up the mess he’d made.
“I think he’s saying very strongly that if you swing at the president, he is going to swing back hard, while also having people around him who understand then that rebuild the bridges,” McCrory said. “But he does say this: If you’re a congressman, if you’re a current CIA director, and you go after the president-elect, he is going to swing back. He’s doing that internationally, he’s doing that domestically.”
Harlow asked McCrory whether presidents should go around making baseless claims about public officials who criticize them.
“I disagree,” McCrory said. “I think the CIA director, if he has a particular situations with the president-elect of the United States, call him up. He doesn’t need to go on Sunday TV and be critical of the qualifications or intent of the current president-elect who’s about to get sworn in.”
Harlow asked if Trump should also be held to the same standard and call up his critics instead of insulting them on Twitter — but McCrory disagreed.
“Not after the CIA director swings,” McCrory said. “He’s going to swing back, he’s proven he’ll do it time and time again.”