CNN's Don Lemon on Brennan: Trump's Actions "Straight Out Of A Dictator's Playbook"

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DON LEMON, CNN: what President Trump what he did today is straight out of a dictator's playbook. Revoking the security clearance of former CIA Chief John Brennan is nothing but a blatant attempt to silence a critic. To take away his right to free speech. To purge him. And the reason this White House gave is beyond belief.

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SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.





Mr. Brennan's lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzy commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.

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LEMON: Lying? Increasingly frenzied commentary? Just let that settle in, think about that for a minute.

This White House is actually attempting to claim, with a straight face, that lying and wild outbursts on TV and Twitter are reason to revoke security clearance? OK, so let me ask you this. Who else makes wild outbursts? Who else lies?

How about the man who gave secrets to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak right in the Oval Office? How about that? How about the man who by "The Washington Post's" count has made well over 4,200 false or misleading claims in his presidency? So far.

How about the man whose tweets, like calling ex-aide Omarosa a dog, are a personal grudge match? That man, of course, is Donald Trump himself.

And John Brennan, the man who convinced President Barack Obama to go ahead with the raid that took down Osama Bin Laden, knows exactly what this is all about.

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JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER UNITED STATES CIA DIRECTOR: I do believe that Mr. Trump decided to take this action, as he's done with others, to try to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration. And revoking my security clearances is his way of trying to get back at me.

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LEMON: So John Brennan not the only one President Trump is targeting. He's not alone. Listen to Sarah Sanders reading out what sounds an awful lot like the president's enemies list. And we know how an enemies list worked out for a previous president.

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SANDERS: James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

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LEMON: So what do those people have in common? All of them have been targets of Trump's public ire, or they've criticized Trump, or both. Not on the list? Fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Ambassador Kislyak.

And take another page out of a dictator's playbook. President Trump seems to be trying here to manipulate the news cycle. What say you? Take a look at his statements as sent out today. Clearly dated July 26th, 2018. That's three days after the White House first said the president was considering the move.

So why would they sit on this for nearly three weeks? And why release it today? Well, the White House aide claims it's nothing but a cut and paste error. Would versus wouldn't. A cut and paste error.

And the president tells the Wall Street Journal tonight he was prepared to do it last week but it was, this is in his words, "it was too hectic." He was on vacation last week.

But you've got to wonder about the timing here. There are a couple of possibilities here. One is that this could be just a case of a thin- skinned president lashing out one day after Brennan tweeted, quote, "It's astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, and probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, and honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our nation."

But there's another possibility. Is this a cynical attempt to change the narrative while the president is still battling the fallout over an ex-aide Omarosa's explosive and unproven charge that a tape exists of Trump using the n-word while he was on the apprentice?

And there's a jury in Virginia. As that jury is set to begin deliberating in just a few hours in the first trial of the Mueller investigation, the trial of Paul Manafort. Is that one of the reasons?

A former Trump campaign manager could spend the rest of his life behind bars if he is convicted of all the charges against him. You've got to wonder, is this president hoping to distract you from that?

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