Former head of the CIA, Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, on Wednesday told CNN’s Don Lemon that Donald Trump Jr.’s stoking of an anti-Trump FBI conspiracy is “scary,” arguing it’s “an appeal to the heart of autocracy.”


Speaking before a group of conservative activists on Wednesday, Trump Jr. argued that the recent revelations of a single anti-Trump FBI agent reveals “there are people at the highest levels of government that don’t want to let America be America.”

“I have to confess when I first heard that this evening it is scary, that is an appeal to the heart of autocracy and challenging the patriotism for the folks who work in the United States government,” Hayden told Don Lemon. “We have good institutions in this country, they are imperfect, they make mistakes. We have imperfect people that send messages they shouldn't send. But that doesn't undercut the legitimacy of these institutions. We’re now seeing a constant attack, not just from the president but, as was suggested just a few minutes ago, from other members of the party, attacking institutions of the american government. It's those institutions, the rule of law, the processes that keep us a free people.”

Hayden remarked that Trump Jr. hasn’t been “marked by cool, calm judgment in his public utterances in the past,” adding his claim shows “in their heart of hearts they don't think this investigation is going to a happy place, at least not a happy place from their point of view.”

“They are family with concerns for one another that's human and understandable you need someone around this group who advises them that, number one, this is not wise on their behalf, and the collateral damage they're doing to American institutions, belief in the American government and integrity of the American system,” Hayden argued. “My great fear based on that earlier quote we're going to do long-term damage on things we depend.”

Asked Lemon how American institutions are “holding up” a year into Trump’s presidency, Hayden replied, “actually pretty well.”

“That sound you hear from Washington is actually the sound of American institutions pushing back—whether the law enforcement, the courts, the press, american intelligence, Don we've even had moments we have the NFL and boy scouts of america pushing back,” Hayden explained.

Watch below, via CNN: