Clapper: Brennan's Strong Rhetoric Toward Trump Has 'Become an Issue in and of Itself'

August 19, 2018

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said John Brennan's strong rhetoric toward President Donald Trump had "become an issue" while discussing the pulling of his security clearance on Sunday.

Trump revoked the clearance of Brennan, the former CIA director under President Barack Obama, on Wednesday, with the White House calling it a product of his "erratic" behavior and abuse of his access after he made "a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations."

Brennan shot back it was a politically motivated decision to silence him and other critics, and 13 former U.S. intelligence officials signed a letter blasting Trump's decision as inappropriate.

One of the signers was Clapper, and CNN host Jake Tapper asked him if Brennan's scathing criticisms of Trump were part of the problem. A contributor to MSNBC, Brennan recently called Trump's widely panned press conference last month alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin "nothing short of treasonous."

"Do you think that John Brennan's hyperbole is an issue here, is one of the reasons we're having this crisis?" Tapper asked

"I think it is," Clapper said. "I think John is sort of like a freight train, and he's going to say what's on his mind. I think, though, that the common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up, though, is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values, although we may all express that in different ways, and I think this is what this is really about. But I think John and his rhetoric have become an issue in and of itself."

Former Obama administration Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco said Brennan would say he "sometimes gets his Irish up." She said Brennan was commenting in a "pointed" fashion in response to Trump's words of praise and deference for Putin at their joint Helsinki press conference.

"He was really commenting on how stunning it was to him as a decades-long national security veteran and intelligence professional to see the president stand up in Helsinki next to our main adversary, President Putin, and not challenge him, not call him out for the attack on our democracy," Monaco said. "So I think that's what John was responding to, yes, in very, very pointed fashion."