President Donald Trump's decision to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin for his election win shows that he's "afraid" of him, and that Russia likely has something very damaging to reveal about him, former CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday.
"I think he is afraid of the Russian president, Brennan, now NBC News' senior national security and intelligence analyst, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "They may have something on him personally to roll out and make his life more difficult."
Brennan said it's clear that the United States must improve its relations with Russia, but the fact that Trump "has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin, not saying anything negative about him, I think continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear."
Trump has mishandled many matters, the former CIA director said.
"Just look at what happened yesterday with his call to Vladimir Putin," said Brennan. "Vladimir Putin was the person who authorized interference on our election. Vladimir Putin was involved in directing the poisoning of an individual on British soil, and to congratulate him and treat him so nicely while he treats Americans with such disdain, I think it just demonstrates he looks at the world through a prism of what is going to help and protect Donald Trump. That is not what presidents are supposed to do."
The former CIA director, who worked under six American presidents, said Wednesday that while he's been critical of different leaders' policies, he always believed they were doing what they thought was right for the country — but not Trump.
"That's not Mr. Trump," said Brennan. "He is self-absorbed and trying to protect his flanks and promote his own interests."
Brennan also denied that his comments were political.
"I'm not a Republican or a Democrat," he said. "This is about the future of our country, our national security, our future prosperity and Mr. Trump, I think is failing on so many fronts...I used in one of my tweets the term 'charlatan.' I think he is masterful in terms of putting out messages that are deceptive and lead people to believe he has solutions to very complicated problems."
In addition, Brennan said he thinks Trump "has shown a lack of understanding of international affairs as well as a real ignorance of what it takes to be president of the United States," said Brennan.
On Saturday, Brennan branded Trump as a "disgraced demagogue" in a Twitter message, Wednesday, he told MSNBC that his tweet was prompted because he believes Trump is "mean-spirited. He is dishonest. He has shown a lack of integrity, and he has continued to, I think, demean the office of the presidency."
Brennan added Wednesday that he has decided to put his silence aside and speak up at this point, "because I do think our future is in jeopardy while Mr. Trump continues his antics."
That crisis point could come, he continued, if Trump decides to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, effectively ending his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"Many of the senators and members of Congress have said that if Trump decides to sack Mueller, that we are going to be in a constitutional crisis," said Brennan. "I have great confidence in Bob Mueller. He is a tremendous American and he's going to get to the bottom of this investigation."
Brennan said he also does not know what Trump will do with North Korea.
"The fact that he opted to have a summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un before really any preparation has been done, it shows his impetuousness, the fact he is not looking at issues with the type of depth and sophistication that is needed," said Brennan.
The former CIA director also said he thinks White House leaks are occurring because the staff is frustrated and disgusted with many of his actions, including that Trump refused to follow advice from experts from the national security staff not to congratulate Putin.
Brennan continued that he thinks the nation's allies are asking questions about whether the United States has changed from its position as a leader of the free world, because Trump has demonstrated that he "changes his views, changes his position, changes his words."
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