- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2017

Michael Morell, a former deputy CIA director, said Monday that America’s allies abroad are hearing “mixed messages” from the Trump administration and that President Trump’s words override what anyone else on his team is saying.

“They are hearing mixed messages,” Mr. Morell, who also served as acting CIA director under former President Obama, said on “CBS This Morning.” “It’s not just the Iraq message we heard about oil, right — it’s messages about Russia.”

“It’s messages about the future of the alliance — [they’re] hearing one thing from the president and they’re hearing other things from the president’s team,” he said.

“I think what’s important to remember is that the person that they really listen to, the person that they focus on, are the words of the president of the United States — less important to them what the others say,” Mr. Morell said.

Mr. Trump has frequently expressed a desire to “take the oil” in Iraq. But Defense Secretary James Mattis said this week that “we’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”

Vice President Mike Pence also said over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. will continue to hold Russia accountable and that the U.S. “strongly” supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But Mr. Trump himself had been hesitant to accept U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia was behind the campaign-season hacks of Democratic officials. He also suggested during the campaign that the U.S. might not automatically come to the defense of NATO member countries who weren’t paying their fair share into the group.

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