Former CIA, NSA head Hayden: 'I'm still concerned' about Trump

FILE - Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA. (MGN)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - Few topics are as pressing for an incoming president as national security. For President-elect Donald Trump, that may mean retooling some of what he said on the campaign trail.

So, what does the intelligence community find encouraging, and what's still concerning about a President Trump?

Sinclair Broadcast Group Chief Political Correspondent Scott Thuman sat down with the former head of the CIA and NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden, to find out.

Gen. Hayden has run the highest levels of the intelligence ranks, from the CIA to the NSA. He has also been a harsh critic of Trump - one of 50 top national security veterans to do so during the campaign.

Thuman: “Has anything he’s done since being elected caused you to change your mind at all?”

Gen. Hayden: “He’s moderated some positions. You know, the phrase, Scott, that I used during the campaign was simply, 'If he governs in any way consistent with the language he’s used as a candidate, I would be very concerned.' And, actually, he’s begun to modify some. Now, I’m still concerned.”

Thuman: “Sounds like he might be tempering his approach on torture?"

Gen. Hayden: "He did. I mean, he came out and said something quite different, and that’s comforting, but not totally comforting.”

Thuman: “Even if you’ve been in politics for decades, for that moment when you become the commander in chief, how big is that learning curve?”

Gen. Hayden: “It’s a very steep learning curve and it’s very steep - for all of them. I think it’s particularly steep for Mr. Trump, because he doesn’t have government experience. Alright? He’s a businessman.”

That's why, Gen. Hayden says, he and his colleagues would typically claw to get time with an incoming president - to help shape his approach.

He also chimed in about Trump's still-forming team. While critical of Gen. Michael Flynn as NSA chief, Gen. Hayden spoke optimistically of other options.

Thuman: “Secretary of state potentials - Mitt Romney?”

Gen. Hayden: “He would do a very good job with a world view that seems to be quite at variance from the world view of the president-elect, particularly with regard to Russia."

Gen. Hayden also weighed in on some of Trump's other selections: “What I got from folks I know was a sense of relief that Mike Pompeo had been selected as director of CIA.”

Thuman: Nikki Haley as UN ambassador?"

Gen. Hayden: "I was surprised and pleased - the child of Sikh immigrants taking our seat at the United Nations? Yeah, there’s a lot to like about that.”

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