The former director of the CIA and NSA has said that Gov. Abbott's paranoia of the 2015 Jade Helm exercises was due in part to Russian meddling.

In 2015, Gov. Abbott requested that the Texas State Guard watch over the Jade Helm 15 military exercises in Texas out of fear that the exercise was a cover for then-President Obama to declare Martial Law and take over the state. The fears were ultimately unfounded, and the former director of the CIA says that Russians are in part to blame for the hysteria. Michael Hayden spoke to MSNBC this week, blaming Russian bots and Alt-Right media for inciting the paranoia about the exercises. Hayden also believes that Abbott's response to the Russian misinformation about the exercise bolstered their confidence in affecting the presidential election,

At that point, I’m figuring the Russians are saying, ‘We can go big time,’. At that point, I think they made the decision, ‘We’re going to play in the electoral process.’

Abbott's response to the exercises resulted in criticism from both opponents and allies, with Former state Rep. Todd Smith accusing the governor of "pandering to idiots". In the wake of Hayden's statements, Manny Garcia, the deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, slammed Gov. Abbott's Jade Helm response, calling his actions "downright idiocy" and saying that the governor owes the armed forces and every Texan an apology.

A spokesman for Gov. Abbott did not immediate return The Texas Tribune's request for comment.