Brennan: I Have Been Falsely "Pilloried" By Trump "As An Example Of The Deep State" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Brennan: I Have Been Falsely "Pilloried" By Trump "As An Example Of The Deep State"


Former CIA Director John Brennan said President Trump has created "a real question about the stability" of the American government in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

CHUCK TODD: Look, I was going to save the focus on you to the second half of our interview. But obviously, I have to bring this up right away. The importance of creating you as the boogeyman, as the person, as the whatever it is, your mere mention to be on the show triggered Senator Johnson in this. Do you understand how we got here? And how would you explain to somebody, you have been completely character assassinated and eviscerated? And it doesn't matter whether people like you or hate you. I think everybody can agree, you've been put through this. Do you understand how you got here?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think it all goes back to Mr. Trump and his dishonesty and his complete obliteration of the norms of honesty, in terms of his public statements. He was the one who started the birther conspiracy, as far as Barack Obama was concerned. He has continued to fabricate information. And clearly, Senator Johnson is running scared of Donald Trump, as are the other Republican senators. Because if they say anything against him, he comes after them with a vengeance. So he is the typical bully. And so now, I have become, you know, being pilloried, as an example of the deep state.

CHUCK TODD: I'll take it another step further. People are criticizing you for speaking out now and for defending yourself. I've seen other intelligence officials, who I think are well meaning in their criticism of you. And frankly, I think I've asked you questions about this, going, you know, are you worried that you're impacting the perception of the intelligence community? Well, at this point, it's a campaign to destroy the credibility of the intelligence community. Even now, Senator Johnson would not affirm that he trusted the CIA and FBI right now. What does that say about those two agencies right now and their ability to conduct the work of protecting America?

JOHN BRENNAN: Yeah, I struggle with what my public posture should be. What I don't want to do is to put the CIA in a difficult position. But I feel an obligation, as a former senior U.S. official, to call out Mr. Trump, when he lies to the American public, when he totally fabricates information just to advance his own political agenda. So I am going to continue doing it. Because people, at this time, I think, really need to speak out and speak up. And it's clear that the Republicans in the Senate are just going along. I've had many issues with the Democrats over the years but I’ve never had -- never seen anything like the Republicans right now, as far as just misrepresentations of the truth, because of what Donald Trump has done.

CHUCK TODD: Well, here's why we're here. Because there is a disinform-- We have two sets of realities that live here. There is a 40% of the country that is only getting fed one reality. Arguably, 60% are getting what I would argue is reality. But this is a huge problem. And it's clear that, whether -- it doesn’t matter -- if your voters are only hearing this one thing, are we capable of governing ourselves with a disinformation campaign that's happening like this?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, until the senior officials of the Republican Party push back against Trump, I think this is going other be a very, very long and difficult fight. Because this dishonesty, this disinformation now, is just overwhelming and inundating the airways. Whether it be social media platforms or a lot of the news networks, they continue just to put out false information. And it gains traction. And I can understand how so many Americans, then, are confused.

CHUCK TODD: Many Americans are going to send me emails, going, "How could you put a traitor like John Brennan on television?"


CHUCK TODD: You know what I mean?

JOHN BRENNAN: You know, I worked 33 years in national security. And I feel good about my record. And there's a lot of false information out there that, now, people take as gospel.

CHUCK TODD: One of the things I used to do, when I had to travel overseas, professionally, is read those CIA -- the public fact sheets and CIA descriptions of the politics and what's happening in that country. How would the CIA assess the stability of the American government right now?


CHUCK TODD: If it were assessing America as if it was another country?

JOHN BRENNAN: We would look at it as a very corrupt government that is under the sway, right now, of this powerful individual who has been able to just corrupt the institutions and the laws of that country.

CHUCK TODD: What would you say about the stability of the democracy?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it's no longer, you know, a democracy, if an autocrat is -- has it in his hands. And people like Johnson and others are putty in his hands, which means that the democratic principles upon which this country are founded are, are eroding right now.

CHUCK TODD: So the CIA would not assess America as a stable democracy?

JOHN BRENNAN: I think it -- well, given the polarization of the country, as well, there's just tremendous political instability here and, which is consuming the government now. And it's not able to take care of the issues that it needs to address, whether it be on the domestic front or the national security or the foreign-policy front. So yes, I think there's a real question about the stability.

CHUCK TODD: The president is trying to make a big deal that the whistleblower is a member of the CIA, as if that, somehow, damages the whistleblower, that they worked for that entity of the government, as opposed to, I guess, another entity of the government. Do you sense a chill, in the intel community, that fear of speaking out?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think that, certainly, is the intention of Mr. Trump. But I'm glad to see that the whistleblower did come forward. And I understand, now, there's a second one, also. So a chill, yes. But you know, the women and men of CIA and the intelligence community are among the most patriotic and dedicated Americans that this country has. And it's, I think, outrageous that someone like Donald Trump disparages and denigrates their work. But they're in the trenches. They're around the world. They're doing their best to keep their fellow citizens safe. And so somebody of Mr. Trump's ilk is not going to be able to undermine and undercut their contributions to this country, ever.

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