Members of President Donald Trump’s national security team must determine if they can continue to serve in his administration following his statements that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin over them on meddling accusations, former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday.
“I think there’s a big question, first of all, in terms of those who are on Mr. Trump’s national security team, whether they can continue to serve in good conscience an individual who betrayed them,” Brennan, now a national security analyst for NBC News, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “But leaders need to ask what they Need to do to protect this country’s liberties and freedom despite having Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, so, I think the outcry needs be strong.”
Brennan praised Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats for standing up for the nation’s intelligence community, but said that if others in Trump’s administration remain silent, that means they “are complicit.”
“What Mr. Trump did yesterday was to betray the women and men of the FBI, the CIA and NSA and others and betray the American public,” said Brennan. “That’s why I use the term this was nothing short of treasonous, because it is a betrayal of the nation. He’s giving aid and comfort to the enemy. It needs to stop. Mr. Trump needs to understand there will be consequences for him too.”
During his joint press conference alongside Putin on Monday, Trump said Putin had been “extremely strong and powerful” in his denials during their private conversation earlier in the day in Helsinki, Finland.
He also called special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling a “disaster” and told the international media that “President Putin says it’s not Russia; I don’t see any reason why it would be,” when asked whether he believed his own intelligence agencies over the Russian president.
Shortly after, Brennan posted on Twitter, accusing Trump of committing treason with his words.
“I hope those that voted for Mr. Trump in good conscience will see he’s leading us down a very dangerous path,” said Brennan. “What we don’t want is Mr. Putin to walk away from that meeting thinking he can get away with whatever he wants.”
Brennan said he’s also concerned about what Trump may have said when he met in private with Putin.
“We only saw what Mr. Trump said during the press conference,” said Brennan. “I can’t even imagine what he said behind closed doors. I can’t imagine what he said to Mr. Putin directly. I am very concerned about what type of impact it might have on our intelligence community and on this country.”
Putin, he added, is a “skilled and trained KGB officer,” and Trump is “way, way out of his depth when he goes into a one-on-one with Mr. Putin. U.S. Intelligence capabilities are exceptionally precious but also exceptionally delicate.”
Brennan also said he doesn’t understand why Trump wouldn’t allow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or National Security Adviser John Bolton into the meeting, and he would find it “unbelievable” if Russian intelligence didn’t record the talks.
Brennan noted that as an intelligence officer, he and others were not to meet privately with any Russians, must less a Russian official, without formal approval.
Russians, meanwhile, are also likely happy with the outcome of the meeting and press conference, and Putin could even be concerned that Trump went too far with his comments.
“I wish that Trump would say, you try to rattle our cages again and we’ll rattle your cages beyond what you even thought we could do,” said the former CIA chief. “We need to make it clear to Mr. Putin he can’t do this and get away with it.”
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