Trump versus Brennan and many others

Donald Trump escalated his feud with ex-CIA chief John Brennan, who has been critical of Trump. Trump has just symbolically stripped Brennan of his security clearance, but this has sparked more criticism of Trump, with claims that Trump is trying to punish people who criticise him and warn off others.

Reuters: Ex-CIA director stripped of security clearance says Trump punishing critics

Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke his security clearance was part of an effort to silence critics.

“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.”

In an interview on MSNBC, Brennan said Trump’s action, announced on Wednesday by the White House, was politically motivated.

It’s hard to know whether it is political or petulance. Talking of which:

It is remarkable to see a president promoting a statement like “An incredibly corrupt FBI & DOJ “.

But there has been pushback against Trump’s attacks.

Washington Post: Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Dear Mr. President:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

LA Times: 13 former U.S. spy chiefs accuse Trump of trying to stifle free speech and politicize intelligence

In a remarkable rebuke to President Trump, 13 former U.S. intelligence chiefs have signed a harshly worded letter in support of former CIA Director John Brennan after Trump abruptly revoked his security clearance.

“We feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions by the White House,” reads the letter from the officials, who served both Democratic and Republican presidents.

They called Trump’s action “inappropriate” and “deeply regrettable.”Signing the letter Thursday was a virtual who’s who of American spy chiefs dating back to the late 1980s, a striking show of solidarity from the top ranks of the national security establishment.

They included former directors of central intelligence William Webster, George Tenet and Porter Goss; former CIA directors Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and David Petraeus; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell.

Robert Gates, the former CIA director and secretary of Defense, signed on to the letter Friday morning. Having served Republican and Democratic presidents, Gates is known for staying out of the political arena. His addition to the bipartisan list only served to underscore the alarm in national security circles following Trump’s punitive swipe at Brennan, seen by many as little more than an attempt to silence his enemies.

But as usual Trump lives in a different universe.

Leaving the White House for a trip to New York, Trump told reporters Friday he’s gotten a “tremendous response” since revoking Brennan’s clearance.

He also blasted the special counsel investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice as “a rigged witch hunt,” claiming that many intelligence officials involved in it should be under investigation themselves.
“They should be looking at the other side,” Trump said.

He singled out Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, the only current government employee whose security clearance the White House claimed Wednesday to be reviewing. Ohr was an early Justice Department contact of Christopher Steele, the private investigator whose dossier on the Trump campaign’s Russia connections was a cornerstone of the government’s initial investigation. Ohr’s wife also once worked for the firm that compiled the dossier.

“Bruce Ohr is a disgrace,” Trump said, hinting that he would strip more security clearances soon. “I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly.”

So stripping and threats to strip security clearances is about Russian investigation.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s punishment of Brennan is actually all about the Mueller probe

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that President Trump had decided to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance, citing the former CIA director’s “erratic conduct and behavior”.

Oodles of irony in “erratic conduct and behavior””.

Trump’s full statement on the decision explicitly mentions Brennan’s criticism of his administration as a rationale for it.

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 frenzied commentary, is inconsistent with access to the Nation’s most closely held secrets, and facilitates the aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.

More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our Nation’s most sensitive secrets long after their time in Government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks.


The key is that this suggests this move is all about striking a political blow against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Trump — who plainly feels constrained from trying to remove Mueller — cannot do anything about the Mueller investigation except tweet wildly about it and threaten not to sit for an interview. So instead, he is striking a blow against his deep-state enemies behind the investigation, and hoping his base sees him as taking decisive action. That’s the story this is meant to tell.

Trump supporters do think that doing things like revoking Brennan’s security clearance and attacking Mueller and his investigation is taking decisive action against critics and against legal processes.

And they parrot Trump’s lines about any criticism of his behaviour being part of some conspiracy – it was claimed by some that 300+ US newspapers denounce Trump attacks somehow proved Trump’s conspiracy claims rather than being widespread concern about Trump’s anti-media rhetoric, especially his tyrant-like promotion of ‘enemy of the people’.

I don’t expect Trump devotees to stop their admiration, nor their defence of Trump.

But there is obviously a lot of prominent people joining media in expressing their concerns about the petulant president who devotes a lot of time to attacking critics, attacking legal processes, and attacking his own judicial and security departments.

I think it’s just a matter of time before Trump becomes known as the president who won the election but lost the war of words. He surely can’t keep making enemies of some many people and organisations and win the long game, when he is increasingly obsessed with daily skirmishes on Twitter.

Trump is a twit who thought he could rule by Twitter – but he’s a dangerous twit will the Republicans keep aiding and abetting his dysfunctional and dangerous tenure.

Leave a comment


  1. Gerrit

     /  18th August 2018

    Interesting read and analysis. Consumer confidence is the measure by which USA presidents get elected. So far consumer confidence, whilst Trump is president, is way way way ahead of any previous president. (Check out the last graph)—-if-it-holds-up.html

    “Perversely, if this metric holds up for Trump, Democrats desperate for Trump to be voted out of office may have to root for an economic recession, which runs counter to their own personal fortunes.”

    Not a fan of Trump but he is pushing the right buttons in upsetting the Democrats through the lambasted media.

    Trump thinks strategically and his “fight”with the press is hitting home by showing up the press bias against him.

    Democrats need a recession to get back onto a level footing with Trump but first they need to sort out their potential candidates to warm the hearts of the media and counter Trump.

  2. FarmerPete

     /  18th August 2018

    It looks as though Trump has joined Slater a a perpetual resident of your doghouse! You don’t need to like Trump to realise that the US neeeded to press the reset button in a lot of areas. As for Brennan, this is not about silencing critics but about stripping a former intelligence official of his security clearance because he behaved in a manner inconsistent with holding such privileges.

    • Trump related issues are of obvious interest to New Zealand, and to the YourNZ community given the number of comments posts keep attracting.

      Is there any difference between ‘don’t post about Trump/Slater/whatever’ and ‘don’t criticise’?

      • FarmerPete

         /  18th August 2018

        Of course Trump news is of interest here. It is your blog so you can post what you like. I just get tired of reading the continual negative slant. I don’t recall any posts where the positives were pointed out, and there are quite a few of them. If I am wrong I apologise in advance.

        • Griff.

           /  18th August 2018

          The only positive I can think of is he is not here.
          Trumpies believe the strangest things so I am sure you will know many wins that you give to Trump.
          Like reading his twitter rants makes every one smile in a look at the nutter sort of way.

        • David

           /  18th August 2018

          If you want coverage of his achievements Farmer best to follow him on Twitter, if you want neutral coverage go to Brietbart, mildly negative coverage on Fox and then the other 3500 news outlets will give you negative to vicious coverage.
          You could always do what I do and chuck some cash in the US stockmarket and then not really care…getting a double whammy with having a part time and distracted PM tanking the currency/economy while the deeply hated Trump is seeing the USD rise and rise. Good times.

          • I doubt there are many who will see Breitbart as anywhere near neutral. That would be like saying The Daily Blog or Whale Oil are neutral.

  3. David

     /  18th August 2018

    Trump wants to give Brennan a bigger platform not silence him, Trump performs and polls better when he has these foils to go up against. He drives people to crazy behaviour and Brennan for a former CIA boss has gone off the deep end, totally irrational at times he looks unhinged.
    He is using his security clearance to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, the reason why former office holders keep their clearances is so they can assist if called upon and there is literally no chance of that ever happening.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  18th August 2018

      Politics is adversarial but Trump seems to operate by in a continual state of warfare by tweet. Most tweets appear to be more about destroying the opposition player rather than addressing the issue. There is a total lack of leadership.

      • David

         /  18th August 2018

        His thing is he doesnt do presidential, he often takes the pi.. out of himself for not being and he has been himself for better or worse in the public eye for 40 years so its odd people can be shocked.
        Being him won against all odds and he is the most popular republican president in the party since Reagan, why change.

  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  18th August 2018

    trump’s revocation of Brennan’s security clearance is just another crude self-serving attempt to muzzle criticism of his regime.

    But there’s no point pretending deflection wasn’t the intention behind the announcement. The statement about Brennan was dated 26 July; trump was simply waiting for the right moment to play the distraction card.

    And with Omarosa dealing out the dirt complete with recordings (she may be self-serving but she consistently backs her claims up with evidence) and with corrupt campaign manager Manafort’s trial in the media every day, trump desperately needs distractions.

  5. David

     /  18th August 2018

    Brennan is a holdover from the Bush years and was vehemently opposed by the left and the media. He lied to the intelligence committee, lied about civilian deaths from his drone program, supported rendition, torture, bugged Merkels phone, lied about Bin Ladens assasination..the guy is a disgrace and far far worse than Trump in deeds not words.
    The new darling of the left, shows how far gone TDS suffers are.
    And yes of course it was a diversion to do it now but Trump has done it to give the guy more platforms as he is a detestable person, more the media trot him and his inanities out the better for Trump.

  6. David

     /  18th August 2018

    The media survive worse fates than having a partisan shill having his access revoked.

    “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist star running for New York’s 14th congressional district banned journalists from covering a town hall meeting with voters this week.”
    “Mayor Bill de Blasio is a such a big believer in the free press that he let two bodyguards physically remove a credentialed Post reporter who had the temerity to ask him a question in public on Sunday.”
    Obama spying on journalists at Associated Press.
    “There’s nothing like an Administration allegedly trampling on the First Amendment to get the great and the good of American journalism all riled up, and the fact that it’s the Obama Administration makes it worse. ”
    “The Washington Post reports that James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, was subjected to intense government monitoring as part of an investigation into possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009. The intrusion on Rosen was more severe than that of the AP reporters, whose phone call records were grabbed as part of a separate national security leaks investigation.”

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th August 2018

    An open letter to the press from Gezza’s mate, Sean Spicer. Gives a good catalogue of Trump accomplishments not exactly heralded by his media opposition:

    For Gezza, to save him the exhausting effort of clicking on the above link:

    Almost 4 million new jobs have been created since President Trump’s election.
    African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment rates have all recently reached the lowest levels in history.
    Women’s unemployment rate has reached the lowest level in 65 years.
    Veterans’ unemployment rate recently reached its lowest level in nearly 20 years.
    The unemployment rate for Americans without high school diplomas is at the lowest level ever recorded, and the Trump administration’s new workforce initiative will deliver job-training to more than 4 million Americans.
    Manufacturing jobs are being created at the fastest pace in over three decades.
    Nearly half-a-million manufacturing jobs have been created since the president took office. In the month of July alone, nearly 40,000 new manufacturing jobs were added.
    Almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps since President Trump’s election.
    The president crafted the largest tax cut in a generation, which led to savings for more than 80 percent of households and pay raises and bonuses for 4 million American workers.
    President Trump protected American taxpayers by asking Congress to rescind $15.4 billion in unused appropriations.
    The president has hired/nominated an impressive number of women to senior positions in his administration, including the first female director of the CIA, Gina Haspel.
    He’s appointed two Supreme Court justices, and the Senate has now confirmed 26 appellate court judges of his choosing, as well as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
    He successfully negotiated the return of four American hostages in one month’s time.
    President Trump’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Action has exceeded the 2:1 mandate, eliminating 22 job-killing regulations for every one new regulatory action.
    President Trump signed the “Right to Try” Act to give terminally ill patients a chance to try lifesaving treatments.
    The Department of Homeland Security arrested 796 MS-13 gang members and associates in FY 2017, an 83 percent increase from the previous year.
    The president signed the VA Mission Act, which allows veterans who don’t live near a VA facility or can’t get an appointment in a timely manner to seek medical care from private health-care providers.
    Signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides an $82 billion funding increase for the Department of Defense over the current period, including a $617 billion Pentagon budget, $22 billion for the nuclear weapons program and $69 billion for U.S. military efforts abroad, as well as new tanks, ships, and planes. The package includes a salary boost for service members, about a 2.6 percent raise—the biggest military pay raise in nearly a decade.

    Numbers don’t lie, so in the name of a free and fair press, we implore all journalists to start sharing them—instead of their own personal biases.

    • All presidents achieve a lot of things. There will be a long list of things that were achieved during Obama’s eight years, even though he was a mediocre president.

      It’s at least as important what they get wrong, especially what they get badly wrong. And some of those things can take quite a while to become apparent.

      • David

         /  18th August 2018

        Perhaps the point is given the relentless negative coverage he is given in NZ media when he is re elected perhaps our outlets might be associated with fake news.
        There is literally no balance in coverage. I caught up with a relative after coming back from a booming US and she was surprised things were ticking along there as she had nothing but One news and the 2 daily anti Trump articles in Stuff as her only news. All of her friends of course are horrified at Trump and his anti immigrant stance which is a little bit milder than their beloved Ardern has as her policy, you point out Obama seperated families at the border and there is silence and when you note its been going on since Clinton and it was “where the hell do I get real news from”.

  8. David

     /  18th August 2018

    From the party who were mates with Weinstein and Wiener..its different when the left do it imagine if this was a Republican and the coverage.

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th August 2018

    The Brennan creep filleted:

    The real story about John Brennan’s security clearance is not that he lost it under a Republican president but that he once got one. One of the peculiar footnotes of Brennan’s history is that he obtained a position in Bill Casey’s CIA after having supported the Soviet-backed American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War. Had Casey conducted the polygraph test in which Brennan admitted to voting for Soviet proxy Gus Hall in 1976, Casey would have tossed him out of the office. Casey hated communists. Whoever hired Brennan must have been a Deep State holdover from the Carter years.

    All of Brennan’s propaganda about “Trump-Russian collusion” is just sour grapes over the loss of his preferred candidate, Hillary, for whom he was desperately auditioning by launching an unfounded investigation into her opponent, and a remnant of his pro-Soviet nostalgia. Brennan’s much-vaunted “conscience” was pricked not by Soviet leaders who slaughtered their own people and enslaved hapless nations but by a Russian leader who — brace yourselves — isn’t keen on postmodern Western propaganda in favor of gay rights. Brennan prided himself on his “commitment” to alternative lifestyles and would pad down the halls of the CIA in a “rainbow lanyard,” as Bill Gertz once reported. Putin’s refusal to hold “gay pride” parades in Moscow infuriated Brennan. He also didn’t care for Putin’s unsentimental approach to Islamic terrorism. Brennan defined jihad as “self-improvement” and lobbied Obama to embrace the fanatics of the Muslim Brotherhood. Brennan got his wish when the Obama-backed Morsi rose to power in Egypt and wrecked it.

    Michael Flynn thought that Brennan was a PC jackass of the first order, in thrall to the Muslims with whom he had traveled to Mecca during his stint as station chief in Saudi Arabia. Brennan got his revenge on Flynn by unleashing on him Stefan Halper, the vaguely pro-Republican oaf and Cambridge con man the Obama administration hired to spy on Trumpworld. Halper reported to his friends in British intelligence that Flynn in 2014 had been seen at a Cambridge University forum fraternizing with a Russian historian. That morsel of half-baked gossip was then fed to Brennan. In 2015, the British and presumably Halper kept bird-dogging Flynn. Part of Brennan’s “Trump-Russian collusion” fetish feeds off his hatred for Flynn, who had criticized the Obama administration for pursuing a pointlessly anachronistic course against Putin. Islamic terrorism, not Russian nationalism, threatened the vital national interests of America, argued Flynn. Brennan stewed over this disagreement and exacted his revenge on Flynn through Justice Department official Sally Yates, a Democratic hack who had joined the anti-Trump ring in the Obama administration along with her subordinate Bruce Ohr and fellow saboteur Peter Strzok.

    The only criticism that Trump deserves for yanking Brennan’s security clearance is its delay. He should have done it on day one. Brennan was a security risk from the start — an anti-American radical of staggering proportions who should never have been permitted within a hundred-mile radius of Langley. Putin, Trump once said, is “laughing his ass off” at the mayhem dolts like Brennan have caused. Putin is also no doubt laughing at the spectacle of a former communist rising to the top of the CIA, then conducting in his retirement an attempted coup against a patriotic president on the claimed grounds that he is insufficiently hostile to Mother Russia.

    Like the execrable Peter Strzok, with whom he conspired to “stop” candidate Trump, Brennan sputters about Trump as a “Russian asset.” But if anyone qualifies as a useful idiot for the Russians, it is Brennan. At the most critical moments in the Cold War, he was rooting for the Reds. He has gone from demanding “détente” to forbidding it, from raging about “McCarthyism” to impersonating it. Brennan never grew up. In his youth, he clamored for the overthrow of an American president; nothing has changed in his dotage. He is still vowing to sabotage an American president, and indulges the adolescent delusion that he somehow speaks for the proletariat, insisting that it will “defeat” Trump.

    Samantha Powers, another lefty drip in Obama’s anti-Trump ring, warned Trump that he shouldn’t risk the wrath of Brennan. Who knows, implied Powers, what he might do? In taking away Brennan’s security clearance, Trump just took Powers at her word.


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