Upon President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, former CIA Director John Brennan traded his post at the CIA for a platform as a paid analyst at MSNBC, where he often uses the weight of his former position to grant authoritative heft to his assertions against the president.
But since Brennan is no longer in government service and unlikely to be called upon by the Trump administration for advice — not to mention that he called the president “treasonous” after the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — the Trump administration revoked Brennan’s security clearance last week. And it seems that move did the trick to let Brannon know that Trump means business.
“Treasonous” doesn’t mean “treason”
During a recent interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Brennan took multiple shots at Trump, but seemed a bit less fiery than usual and actually appeared to walk back his prior assertion that Trump had committed treason against the United States. He also appeared to cast doubt on if there is any actual evidence at all that Trump had colluded or conspired with Russia in 2016, which Brennan had routinely insinuated in the past.
Maddow asked Brennan to elaborate on his tweet that called Trump “treasonous,” and thus commenced a game of semantics as Brennan attempted to wriggle his way out of the rather serious accusation he had lodged.
Brennan initially tried to defend his remarks as “freedom of speech,” then seemingly blamed them on his “Irish” heritage, but even Maddow wasn’t buying that and continued to press.
Brennan then reiterated his complaints about Trump being too friendly with Putin, stating: “And that’s why I said it was nothing short of treasonous. I didn’t mean that he committed treason. But it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.”
Maddow would have none that explanation, though, and retorted: “If we diagram the sentence, nothing short of treasonous means it’s treason.”
Admittance of no evidence
On the obvious insinuation by Brennan that he is aware of evidence and facts that point to Trump having committed treason by serving the interests of a foreign country ahead of our own, Maddow asked directly: “Do you think that he is knowingly serving the interest of the Russian government instead of the U.S. government?”
Brennan replied: “You know, I scratch my head a lot. I’m puzzled over why Mr. Trump acts this way with such obsequiousness to Mr. Putin. I don’t — I don’t know. And I’m not going to try to pretend that I know.”
Later in the interview, Brennan suggested that Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation had uncovered evidence of American citizens colluding and conspiring with Russians, but quickly added the caveat, “maybe there’s none of that.”
He followed that by mentioning some of the concerning things he’d seen in the media over the past two years, and guardedly asserted: “So, there is collusion in plain sight. But I don’t know whether any of that rises to the level of conspiracy and whether any of that conspiracy rises to criminal liability for that conspiracy.”
In the end, Brennan walked back both his assertion that Trump had committed treason against the United States in being too friendly toward Russia and his accusations that there was any sort of Trump-Russia “collusion.”
He finally admitted he’s seen no real evidence to support either allegation.