Former Intelligence Agency Director Who Briefed Trump Says He Endangers the Nation's National Security

Robert Cardillo, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said President Donald Trump endangers the nation's national security in an op-ed published Friday in The Denver Post.

"Before this election, I have never spoken out for or against a candidate for any office," he wrote. "But I can be silent no longer."

Over nearly four decades, Cardillo has served under six presidents—two Democrats and four Republicans—and has personally briefed both former President Barack Obama and Trump.

"Broadly speaking, I can personally attest that Americans were very well served by those they elected to fill critical national security positions," he wrote. "There is one important exception to that statement—our current president."

"I have briefed him up close—and I have seen and felt the effect of his faults on our nation's security," he continued.

While the former official declined to provide details due to the confidential nature of his employment, Cardillo wrote that Trump "has little patience for facts or data that do not comport with his personal world view" and called conversations with the president "erratic and less than fully thoughtful."

He alleged that Trump bases his decisions on his instincts, which compromises both the public interest and the country's intelligence community for his own personal agenda.

"He fails to protect our soldiers when bounties are placed on their heads by his friend Vladimir. And not only does he not respect their service, but President Trump also belittles combat heroes who were taken as prisoners of war," Cardillo wrote.

The ex-director of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said the reason he broke his silence was because of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As a nation, we were fortunate that a true crisis did not occur during his first three years in office," he wrote.

"In moments of crisis, the American people demand—and deserve—a leader who will put the country first. Full stop. Because the reality and the science of COVID-19 conflicted with his personal views, President Trump knowingly downplayed the pandemic," he added.

Cardillo argued that voters will have much more to consider in this year's presidential election than the usual issues.

"This is about American lives unnecessarily lost. This is about businesses unnecessarily closed. This is about being guided by service to all Americans. This is about centering decisions on a higher morality," he wrote. "President Trump's actions—and inaction—demonstrates that he is not concerned about any of this."

He called on Americans to vote not for Trump, but for "a thoughtful, moral, responsible, respectful leader" come Election Day.

However, Cardillo, who has never registered with a political party, refrained from endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the op-ed. He said he remains an independent voter who will cast his ballot for the candidate he sees best fit based on their policies.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment, but did not hear back before publication.

Cardillo joins others in the intelligence community who have spoken out against Trump, including former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor.

Robert Cardillo
Former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo and Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson testify before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee on Capitol Hill on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Cardillo penned an op-ed on Friday, in which he speaks out against President Donald Trump — the first time Cardillo has done so over nearly four decades of service. Chip Somodevilla/Getty