Trump Vs. Brennan: War of Words Between Incoming President and Outgoing CIA Chief

Donald Trump & John Brennan
Press Association via AP

On Fox News Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan blasted incoming President Donald Trump for insulting the intelligence community, warned Trump to watch what he says on Twitter, and said Trump lacked a “full understanding” of diplomacy with Russia.

“I don’t think he has a full understanding of Russian capabilities and the actions they are taking on the world… Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia is a road that he needs to be very, very careful about moving down,” Brennan said on Sunday.

“Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected. Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests,” he said on the subject of Trump’s social media habits.

Brennan’s most heated comments came in response to Trump’s criticism of the intelligence community, on the question of the unverified dossier of salacious information that became big news last week.

“What I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany. I do take great umbrage at that, and there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly,” Brennan said.

He worried that if the new president “doesn’t have confidence in the intelligence community, what signal does that send to our partners and allies, as well as our adversaries?” 

He was referring to this tweet from the President-elect:

Trump, of course, responded to Brennan’s Fox News Sunday comments on Twitter, going so far as to speculate that Brennan himself might have been responsible for leaking the notorious dossier to the press:

Brennan’s likely replacement as CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, has taken a considerably more aggressive line against Russia than the President-elect, declaring at his confirmation hearing last week that it was clear Russian “involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy” were an “aggressive action taken by senior leadership inside of Russia.”

Pompeo also said Russia has “reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

He also said President Trump would inherit “the most complicated threat environment the United States has seen in recent memory,” and promised the CIA would offer “accurate, timely, robust, and clear-eyed analysis” to cope with it.


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