Donald Trump Secures Former CIA Chief Woolsey as Adviser

Source: By Damian Paletta, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Former Central Intelligence Agency Director R. James Woolsey will serve as a national security adviser to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, adding a former Bill Clinton administration official with extensive experience in Eastern Europe to his roster.

Mr. Woolsey served as CIA director for two years during the Clinton administration. He has complained about having virtually no access to Mr. Clinton during the White House years, but he has also described himself as a long-time Democrat.

“Mr. Trump’s commitment to reversing the harmful defense budget cuts signed into law by the current administration, while acknowledging the need for debt reduction, is an essential step toward reinstating the United States’ primacy in the conventional and digital battlespace,” Mr. Woolsey said in a statement released by the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump could try to use Mr. Woolsey’s backing as a way to counter criticism from many national security experts who have said they won’t back the GOP nominee. Last week, roughly 90 retired senior military officers declared support for Mr. Trump, helping him cut into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s then-lopsided support on foreign policy issues.

Mr. Woolsey, 74, also has extensive experience dealing with issues in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Among other roles, Mr. Woolsey is chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington organization that has been outspoken for its opposition of the recent nuclear agreement between the U.S. and other countries reached with Iran. He served as a foreign policy adviser to Republican John McCain in 2008.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy views often buck traditional GOP positions. He has questioned free trade deals and said the U.S. should force countries like Germany, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to pay for U.S. military protection. Mr. Trump has also been an outspoken critic of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, something Mr. Woolsey supported at the time.

But presidential candidates often have differences of opinion with their advisers, and Mr. Woolsey’s foreign policy background helps him build a roster of supporters with extensive contacts.

Mr. Woolsey resigned after spending less than two years as CIA chief amid criticism of his handling of the Aldrich Ames spy case. Mr. Ames was a CIA analyst who was discovered selling information to Russia, but Mr. Woolsey resisted pressure to fire or demote people at the agency who oversaw Mr. Ames’s work.