MSNBC offered a softball interview to former CIA director John Brennan in his first interview responding to President Trump’s decision to revoke his security clearance. MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace allowed Brennan to unquestioningly assert that the president’s decision was an abuse of power.
Wallace made no mention of the unprecedented verbal assaults from Brennan against the president, including Brennan accusing Trump of treason, high crimes and misdemeanors.
Wallace read this tweet from Brennan: “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”
Brennan has been a vocal critic of how Trump engages with the clandestine services, yet Wallace didn’t mention the anti-Trump bias and incredible lack of cooperation by the clandestine services to comply with Congressional requests for what the WSJ calls “information that would let the American people know whether our top law enforcement and intelligence agencies were abusing their power as part of an effort to tip the scales in the presidential contest.”
Wallace let Brennan accuse Trump of “failures in terms of fulfilling the responsibilities of that sacred and solemn office of the presidency” and equate Trump’s behavior to that of “foreign despots, tyrants and autocrats.”
The MSNBC anchor didn’t push back on Brennan trying to equate despicable human rights abuses with Trump’s decision to revoke a privilege — not a human right. Later in the interview, Brennan himself, unprompted, acknowledged that the stripping of his clearance was the revocation of a privilege.
“I don’t consider it a right,” Brennan said, in the interview where he also accused Trump of “nastiness” and behavior that is “abnormal,” and “dangerous.”
During the interview, Wallace accused Trump of “incompetence and debasing the office of the presidency,” and she implied that Brennan’s security clearance change might be because President Trump has some vulnerability to Russian President Putin. Wallace said that President Trump appears to be checking off Putin’s “to-do list” through “pro-Russia policies.”
“What do you know that he is afraid of?” Wallace asked Brennan.
Yet Wallace didn’t ask Brennan about how the Trump administration has made multiple moves against Russia, including indicting Russians involved with hacking related to the 2016 election, reinforcing sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, including four different times so far this year.
In an unprecedented move, three Russian facilities in the United States have been closed and 60 Russians were expelled from the country. The Trump administration has also armed anti-Russian, Ukrainian rebels–unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, who provided them with merely night goggles. Trump has also pushed hard for NATO allies to expand their defense spending — a move that acts as a counterbalance to Russian power.
Brennan even said, “I do not pretend to have that knowledge” about Russian leverage over the president, which didn’t stop Wallace from further speculation.
Wallace also did not press Brennan with the historical context of an ongoing, decades-long struggle between clandestine services and White Houses, including J. Edgar Hoover and other presidents he served.