Tags: john brennan | trump | behavior | national security | officials

Brennan Speaking Out Over Trump's 'Abnormal, Abhorrent Behavior'

Brennan Speaking Out Over Trump's 'Abnormal, Abhorrent Behavior'
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By    |   Friday, 01 June 2018 10:15 AM

Former CIA Director John Brennan hasn't spent his time since leaving the government writing opinion pieces, but he said Friday he was compelled to pen a piece for The Washington Post "because of the abnormal and abhorrent behavior" of President Donald Trump.

"I felt a need to explain why I and so many other former national security officials are speaking out, because of the abnormal and abhorrent behavior of Mr. Trump," Brennan, now a senior national intelligence analyst for NBC News, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." 

"That very much concerns us because of the negative impact we believe it is having on our national security."

He also commented that he, as well as other intelligence leaders like Michael Hayden and Jim Clapper have been "very dismayed" at what they have seen in Trump.

"As national security officials, former national security officials and nonpartisans, we are very, very concerned that what we're seeing here is something that we have seen in other countries around the globe which really led to the degradation of democratic principles, as well as the standards of governance," said Brennan.

"That should not be happening here. This is the United States of America. Donald Trump has not lived up to the standards."

Trump's example is also dangerous for the nation's young Americans, said Brennan, who look to him as someone to be emulated.

"His continual lying, as well as lack of ethics, as well as lack of rigor in terms of the policies that he pursues — it is abnormal for us to speak out as critically and vocally as we have, but these are abnormal times and he is an abnormal president," said Brennan.

"He's an aberration and not in a good way. That's what gives us the motivation to speak out."

In his column, Brennan writes of his nervousness during his first Oval Office meeting as a 35-year-old CIA agent, when in in October 1990 he briefed then-President George H.W. Bush on Iraq.

After that, Brennan said, he returned to the Oval Office through the years with meetings with several other presidents, and while his nerves calmed, "the respect, awe and admiration I held for the office of the presidency and the incumbents never waned."

He added that he didn't always agree with all the presidents he directly served, but never doubted they all treated their responsibilities seriously.

That esteem was dealt a blow with Trump, Brennan writes.

"Almost immediately, I began to see a startling aberration from the remarkable, though human, presidents I had served," said Brennan. "Mr. Trump's lifelong preoccupation with aggrandizing himself seemed to intensify in office, and he quickly leveraged his 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. address and his Twitter handle to burnish his brand and misrepresent reality."

Trump also lies "routinely to the American people without compunction," while encouraging division and degrading the nation's institutions, said Brennan in the opinion piece.

He added that he has studied foreign officials who have also craved power, and Trump shares many similarities to those officials.

Further, Brennan labeled Trump's "ad hoc and frequently impulsive approach to national security" as "short-sighted and dangerous" as it leaves partners uncertain about U.S. strategy.

On "Morning Joe," Brennan, while commenting about special counsel Robert Mueller's continuing investigation, said he is not concerned that his opinion piece will play into the presidents' hands.

"I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated a paranoia, an insecurity, as well as a real concern about the investigation that is underway," said Brennan. "Certainly, his tweets do not seem like they're coming from a person of innocence and confidence."

He added that Trump will continue trying to discredit the FBI, the CIA, and other national institutions.

"I think the American justice system is going to prevail in this endeavor to get to the bottom of who might have been collaborating and working with foreign actors to try to undermine the integrity of the election," said Brennan.

Meanwhile, he also continued to deny that he was behind the leak of Christopher Steele's dossier purporting Trump's connections with Russia and insisted he had not seen it himself until Dec. 16, well after Trump was elected.

He also denied a narrative that his interest in the Russia investigation had begun even before Trump aide George Papadopoulos and his conversation in London about whether Russians may have had dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"I continuously shake my head at how much fabrication is going on," said Brennan. "People make things up out of whole cloth. The one report you're referring to says that Robert Hannigan, the head of GSAQ, which is great Britain's NSA equivalent, came over and delivered information to me that involved the Trump campaign.

"No such visit or meeting took place."

He also denied that he was the one who was sharing the Steele dossier around town, but Trump, "with his continued emphasis on lying and fabrication and untruths" feeds such stories.

However, he did admit that the CIA, in 2016, was working with domestic partners, "and if there were opportunities to work with foreign partners, it was to try to understand what Russia was doing, not what U.S. persons or U.S. officials were doing, but what the Russians were doing to try to undermine us."

Brennan also said he shared information with former FBI Director James Comey and the White House about Russia, but still, "I keep reading stories that are fiction, and that's what they should be filed."

He added that he believes Moscow is "quite pleased" by the disruption, as 16 months after Trump's inauguration, "our entire political system seems to continue to be almost paralyzed in many respects as a result of this dispute about what the Russians are doing."

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Former CIA Director John Brennan said Friday he was compelled to pen a piece for The Washington Post "because of the abnormal and abhorrent behavior" of President Donald Trump.
john brennan, trump, behavior, national security, officials
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2018-15-01
Friday, 01 June 2018 10:15 AM
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