MSNBC counterterrorism analyst Malcolm Nance said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is a "witting asset" of Russia, pointing to his public call for the Russians to find Hillary Clinton's missing emails in 2016.
Nance, a retired Navy officer, appeared on "Morning Joe" to promote his new book, The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, Mediaite reported. He said Trump's worldview had been shifted forever in 2013 after dining with Russian oligarchs, and Vladimir Putin had capitalized on it.
MSNBC analyst Steve Schmidt, who recently announced he had officially left the Republican Party, said there had been an "erosion of faith in democratic institutions" in the United States under Trump.
"Donald Trump fundamentally does not believe in American democracy," Nance said. "He doesn’t. Look, he clearly doesn’t understand the Constitution … What is his operational philosophy? And it's simple. It's autocracy."
Historian Jon Meacham asked Nance if Trump was an "agent of the Russian government." Nance said he wasn't, as that's a technical intelligence community term, but he said Trump started as a "useful idiot."
"Then he became an unwitting asset, which is a person who is working with them but doesn’t understand that the strings are on him," Nance said.
Nance said when Trump publicly stated July 27, 2016 that he hoped Russia was listening and would find Clinton's missing emails from her private server, he became a "witting asset."
"He knew people were working to benefit him, and he has been working with them because they are now part of his base. He will never betray Vladimir Putin. He will never betray Russia," Nance said.