John Brennan’s career in the Obama administration, first as counterterrorism adviser, then as Director of the CIA, has been a disaster. We have written about him many times; just search “John Brennan” on this site. Along with being an inept CIA Director, Brennan is a political hack. Today he went on Fox News Sunday and attacked Donald Trump. But the real news was Brennan’s inability to respond to questions about his agency’s use of the fake “Russian dossier” to smear Trump. That was the topic that Chris Wallace began with:
WALLACE: President-elect Trump has made it clear, as we just discussed, that he believes the intelligence community released, put out information about this unverified dossier in order to undercut him. Here’s what he said at his press conference.
TRUMP VIDEO: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that and I say that, and that something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.
WALLACE: Mr. Brennan, your response.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think as the Director of National Intelligence said in his statement, this information has been out there circulating for many months. So, it’s not a question of the intelligence community leaking or releasing this information, it was already out there.
WALLACE: But it hadn’t been reported, though. And one of the reasons it hadn’t is because it hadn’t been verified. And when you briefed the president on it, you collectively briefed the president on it, the president-elect, that made it news.
That is exactly correct. Not a single news organization had reported on the fake “Russian dossier” because it was obviously bogus. The CIA, or someone in the intelligence community, deliberately turned fake news into a “legitimate” news story by purporting to brief Donald Trump on the smears against him, and then leaking the fact that they had done so. Brennan’s defense is pathetic.
BRENNAN: Well, nothing has been verified. It is unsubstantiated reporting that is out there, that has been circulating in the private sector and with the media as well by a firm that pulled this information together.
But 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.
WALLACE: But it wasn’t available publicly. Various news organizations, if I may, various news organization had it, but they weren’t reporting it because it hadn’t been verified. And this brings me to the real question, Director Brennan, why on earth [would our] nation’s intelligence spy chiefs brief President-elect Trump, in your first meeting collectively with him, on this unverified information? First of all, it wasn’t intelligence, it was rumors. And secondly, by briefing him on it, you made it a news event and, therefore, gave news organizations an excuse to report it.
That is indeed the question, and Brennan has no answer.
BRENNAN: Well, I think news organizations should not assume what happened during that discussion with Mr. Trump.
WALLACE: Well, it’s been verified by the Director of National Intelligence that he was briefed on this information.
BRENNAN: Chris, bringing to the attention of the president-elect, as well as to the current president that this was circulating out there was a responsibility in the minds of the intelligence directors, of the intelligence community to make sure that there was going to be no evaluation of it, but just making sure that the president-elect was aware that it was circulating.
This is unbelievably disingenuous. “President-Elect Trump, we have vitally important news for you! You will be shocked–shocked!–to learn that your political enemies are trying to smear you with false claims! Which, by the way, we are about to leak.”
How dumb does Brennan think we are?
WALLACE: But shouldn’t you have done it a bunch of better ways, for instance, had a staff level person, give it to a staff level person, rather than the spy chiefs giving it to the president and the president-elect?
BRENNAN: Well, I think anybody who has read the reports that are out there, I think there are some very salacious allegations in there, again, unsubstantiated, that were circulating. And so, making sure that the president-elect himself was aware of it. I think that was the extent of what it was that the intelligence chiefs wanted to do.
WALLACE: One of the questions, though, is whether the intelligence community is going after — or somehow is going to try to undercut by selective leaks the new president-elect.
Let me ask my question, because former top intelligence officials have been bashing Mr. Trump for months, and I want to put a couple of these on the screen. Former acting CIA Director Mike Morell wrote, “In the intelligence business, we would say Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian federation.”
And then, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he’d prefer a different term, “That’s the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but his blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”
Can you understand given that and given all these leaks that have been coming out for months, why the president-elect would think the intelligence community had it in for him?
BRENNAN: Well, these are private citizens now for speaking about the current political environment about individuals. So, I’m not going to try to defend or explain what they said. But I can tell you that the intelligence community is prepared to support the president-elect and his incoming team, as we have done throughout the course of our history.
Chris Wallace never asked, and John Brennan certainly didn’t answer, the obvious question: who leaked the fact that the intelligence agencies briefed Trump on the fake news dossier, and then leaked the agencies’ own memo summarizing the smears against Trump? Donald Trump didn’t. Who, then?
We know for sure that intelligence officials–I assume either Brennan or his subordinates at the CIA–were feeding reporters classified information about the fake dossier in order to damage Trump. Their conduct was so reprehensible–criminal, actually–that it disgusted even the New York Times. I wrote last Wednesday that it is time for heads to roll at the CIA:
[A] reasonably respectable newspaper like the Washington Post takes this [the CIA’s leaked briefing of the president-elect] as a green light to report the slanders against Trump:
A classified report delivered to President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump last week included a section summarizing allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising material and information on Trump’s personal life and finances, U.S. officials said.
The officials said that U.S. intelligence agencies have not corroborated those allegations but believed that the sources involved in the reporting were credible enough to warrant inclusion of their claims in the highly classified report on Russian interference in the presidential campaign.
Note that, while the report is “highly classified,” “U.S. officials” didn’t hesitate to tell the Post and other news sources all about it.
This excerpt from the New York Times’s account tells you all you need to know:
[I]ntelligence agencies considered it so potentially explosive that they decided Obama, Trump and congressional leaders needed to be told about it and informed that the agencies were actively investigating it.
Intelligence officials were concerned that the information would leak before they informed Trump of its existence, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the summary is classified and talking about it would be a felony. [Emphasis added]
Right. So “intelligence officials” think nothing of committing a felony if it will help serve the cause of the Democratic Party. The CIA is a sick agency. Heads need to roll.
The first head that ought to roll is John Brennan’s, but he won’t survive the Obama administration in any event. There are more who should be sacked. Reporters are getting the vapors over the fact that Trump doesn’t trust the CIA. But if “intelligence officials” think it is better to commit a felony than to give Trump a fair shake, why should he?
UPDATE: The Associated Press never mentions Brennan’s humiliation, and instead tries to fool newspaper readers into thinking that the story from today’s Fox News Sunday appearance was Brennan’s chiding Trump with respect to Russia. Unbelievable. Or, it would be unbelievable if it weren’t the Associated Press.