Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), warned Thursday that impeaching President Donald Trump would have unintended consequences and could further delegitimize the intelligence community.
Hayden, a frequent critic of President Trump, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton that he believes “impeachment would be a bad idea.”
“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 conducted by people, well frankly like everybody here at the table would be their view,” Hayden said. “I think the only way we move beyond this in any way that’s healthy for our democracy is we vote,” the Obama-era intelligence official added.
Hayden is among a handful of former Deep State officials under consideration for having their security clearance revoked amid concerns of profiteering from access to sensitive government intelligence. Last week, the former NSA chief, along with other veteran intelligence officials, issued a statement condemning President Trump for revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
“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,” the letter read. In a separate statement to Voice of America (VOA), Hayden called the move “unacceptable by the government, for the president of the United States.”
Despite calls for impeachment from a slew of Democrats and left-leaning media figures, high-ranking Party leaders are still shying away from the issue. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) dismissed the idea of impeaching the president following former Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea. “Impeachment has to spring from something else,” the California lawmaker told reporters. “It’s not a priority on the agenda going forward unless something else comes forward.”
“The Cohen revelations have accelerated discussions about, one, whatever the potential liability the president has and, two, how do you procedurally address that,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said vaguely on the topic of impeachment.
When asked if the plea meant she would consider impeachment, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Slate, “I think there’s a lot of thought going on. That’s all I can say right now.”