President Trump recently called ex-CIA director John Brennan a “loudmouth,” and other intelligence officials wouldn’t necessarily disagree.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Sunday criticized Mr. Brennan’s overheated rhetoric, specifically his description last month of Mr. Trump’s behavior at Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”
“John and his rhetoric have become I think an issue in and of itself,” said Mr. Clapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Brennan walked back his comment Friday, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “I didn’t mean that he committed treason, but it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.”
“John is sort of like a freight train, and he’s going to say what’s on his mind,” said Mr. Clapper. “I think though that the common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values, although we may express that in different ways. I think that’s what really what this is about.”
Mr. Trump came under fire from former intelligence officials for revoking last week Mr. Brennan’s security clearance, calling Mr. Brennan on Twitter a “loudmouth, partisan political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country!”
Sixty former lower-ranking CIA officials blasted Mr. Trump’s decision in a Friday letter, saying that “former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so.”
Lisa Monaco, who served as Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, defended Mr. Brennan, saying that, “I think John has said that he sometimes gets his Irish up.”
“But really what he talked about I think in that interview that you played was that he was really commenting on how stunning it was to him … 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,” said Ms. Monaco.
She added, “I think that’s what John was responding to yes, in very, very pointed fashion.”