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Trump 'would do well' to investigate Russia's role in US election: Ex-CIA director

Traditional Russian matryoshka dolls depicting Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are seen on sale at a gift shop in central Moscow on November 8, 2016.
Kirill Kudryatsev | AFP | Getty Images
Traditional Russian matryoshka dolls depicting Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are seen on sale at a gift shop in central Moscow on November 8, 2016.

Donald Trump "would do well" to investigate Russia's involvement in last month's U.S. presidential election, a former director of the CIA told CNBC.

"I think the president would do well so say: We ought to find out what Russia's role was, we ought to investigate it and we ought to make sure that it never happens again," advised Leon Panetta, speaking at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai.

"When it comes to Russia and (the country's) interference in our last campaign, 17 intelligence agencies agreed that (it) was involved in that effort," Panetta asserted, underlining what he perceived as the severity of the situation.

Panetta also said that he was concerned by Trump's view on intelligence, following recent reports that the president-elect claimed that he does not need to be briefed daily. "It's extremely important for the President of the United States to protect our country and (to do so he) … needs to understand the threats" and the intelligence behind them, Panetta argued.

Panetta added that he agreed with Trump on both "the importance of defeating the Islamic State" and a tough stance towards Iran, "particularly when it comes to the effort by (the country) to support terrorism." Panetta added that he believed that Trump would continue to be "strong" on sanctions directed at curbing the former pariah state's nuclear program.

Panetta served as incumbent President Barack Obama's Secretary of Defense from 2011-2013.

When questioned on Trump's nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to Secretary of State, Panetta explained that Tillerson "has to make clear that as secretary of state he will represent the concerns and the interests of the American people, not the oil industry."

With Trump's tempestuous public persona often causing controversy, Panetta reasoned that, "in the world of reality TV, words don't necessarily count. But when it comes to being President of the United States, words count." Panetta warned that if Trump is to be a "strong" president, "he has to be careful about the words he uses and how he relates to the rest of the world."

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