Brennan, Matthews Rage at Judge; Accuse Trump of ‘Joining the Other Side’ to Betray America

Amidst a commercial-free Thursday night edition of Hardball in light of the Paul Manafort sentencing, MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews brought on Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan to rage over the Manafort sentence by Judge T.S. Ellis and accuse President Trump of having “jumped the tracks” to betray America to side with North Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Brennan was first asked about the Manafort sentencing and fretted that it was “an extraordinarily lenient sentence, in light of the extent and scope of Mr. Manafort’s criminality.” 

 

 

He then suggested that “this sentence says a lot more about Judge Ellis than it does about Paul Manafort,” which was that Ellis “has an attitude towards a person of Paul Manafort’s ilk who has defrauded the government, as was demonstrated.”

Later, Matthews was the first to break this glass on whether the President’s upholding the Oath of Office he took on January 20, 2017 (click “expand”):

MATTHEWS: Do you see him — it’s always hard to make references in history to who Trump is. I mean, I think of him as someone who’s come in to our system, trashed NATO, trashed our alliances, made friends — publicly flirting with people like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, publicly flirting through his family with MLB — whatever his name, over in Saudi Arabia, a killer of an American journalist. Flaunt all of the rules of what we thought of ourselves as a good guys of the world, and we hung around with other good guys, and we fought bad guys, either through diplomacy or war, whatever it took, or containment, we always knew what side we were on. It’s like Trump has jumped the bounds, jumped the tracks and he’s just joining the other side. What do you make of that?

BRENNAN: Well, I think he has no sense or knowledge of history, of the Constitution, of law, of our system of checks and balances, but more ominously, he doesn’t care. He only cares about himself, and that’s why over the last two-plus years, it’s been —

MATTHEWS: When did you come to that conclusion this is just a show up, showing off?

BRENNAN: — pretty early on in this presidency. I was very skeptical that he was going to be able to rise to the occasion. I thought he was going to continue to carry out his duties and his work the way he has many years, which is by skirting the law, by skirting ethics and principles and just pursuing a very unilateral agenda and that’s why I think it’s happened.

Matthews expounded on this by fretting that, with the exception of Richard Nixon, “the office would change a man” and “if he has patriotism will come in and do a good job and make the right decision” even if they lack “a PhD in political science or whatever else, you don’t have to be Ivy League or anything because if you have the right instincts, you’ll make a great president” and that Trump presented another sad exception.

If Brennan wasn’t worked up already, the one-time Communist Party voter was by the end of this rant about the President and the Republican Party (click “expand”):

Well, it shows if you’re a master charlatan, a snake oil salesman, and that you can snooker so many people, you can get away with a lot and that has happened with Donald Trump, but the people I blame most are those people who know better, our senators, congressmen of the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, how they’ve sold out their principles in this country, how they’ve held their nose over what Donald Trump is doing. I think history is going to treat them very, very accurately which is they really just sold themselves because of Donald Trump.....Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the icons of both parties over so many years. Donald Trump is nothing like any of those people. He is his own person, but, unfortunately, he has been able to get a lot of people to just unfortunately kowtow to him.

Of course, there was no question from Matthews about Brennan’s sordid history of lying

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on March 7, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
March 7, 2019
7:39 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: What do you make this? Look, we got to, as we say in our business, segue now. We have got to go — we can’t ignore what just happened tonight. It’s not your bailiwick. It’s justice, though, and it’s America. This justice apparently gave this guy a pretty good deal today.

BRENNAN: Yes, it’s an extraordinarily lenient sentence, in light of the extent and scope of Mr. Manafort’s criminality. It just shows that there’s a lot of power vested in the hands of judges. I think this sentence says a lot more about Judge Ellis than it does about Paul Manafort.

MATTHEWS: What’s it say?

BRENNAN: It says that he has an attitude towards a person of Paul Manafort’s ilk who has defrauded the government, as was demonstrated.

MATTHEWS: Does he know what a mercenary is, this judge? I mean, the guy who’s basically take on a career to make a lot of money defending the bad guys in Central Europe. You’re basically taking people who are — you’re working for somebody who wants to crush the independence of Ukraine on behalf of a tyrant, Putin.

BRENNAN: Well, that’s what the guidelines, you know, calling for many more years. Guidelines are used for a reason, but obviously, Judge Ellis felt that he could just decide unilaterally on this one.

MATTHEWS: He said he’s had an otherwise blameless life except for jury tampering.

BRENNAN: Well, that is just mind-boggling, you know, why he would say that Paul Manafort has an otherwise blameless life. I mean, Paul Manafort has demonstrated track record of criminal, unethical, unprincipled behavior.

MATTHEWS: Well, let’s talk about this whole question now of the — the ways these things work together. The way in which the Russian probe, which continues, as it well stated by Kirschner, it’s really about a conspiracy that was advanced by Americans. Begun by Russians, advanced by Americans, co-worked on this stuff.

BRENNAN: Yes, it was —

MATTHEWS: I mean, selling out your country

BRENNAN: Yeah, a number of U.S. persons still work with the Russians in one form or another, I think it’s been demonstrated now that there was this active engagement and I’m hoping and I believe that Bob Mueller and his team were going to uncover a lot more that is unknown. I think as Glenn mentioned, there is a lot that special counsel’s office has been involved in.

MATTHEWS: What do you smell coming between now and the final report from Mueller? What comes between?

BRENNAN: I smell more indictments.

MATTHEWS: Family members?

BRENNAN: Well, I believe that if there are going to be family members indicted by the special counsel, it would be the final raft of indictments, because I think Bob Mueller and his team know that if in fact they indict somebody of the Trump family, that Donald Trump would not allow Bob Mueller to continue. So, I think it’s on the conspiracy side —

MATTHEWS: You think he’d fire the guy?

BRENNAN: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think criminal conspiracy and family members.

MATTHEWS: Okay this — this gets to the heart of the whole thing the connecting rods of the whole thing. You’ve got presidential offspring and in-laws, basically the son-in-law, who were refused FBI clearances. I mean, everybody gets in the Peace Corps gets an FBI clearance, maybe not for the highest level, a top security, but what was it? People have speculated his weird relationship with the crown prince in Saudi Arabia, it’s too tight with Netanyahu, too tight with the Emirates. Was it business dealings? The fact that the President’s own daughter couldn’t get a top security. What did that smell like to you? Why would that happen?

BRENNAN: I don’t and I think we have to be careful about speculating too much here, because Ivanka —

MATTHEWS: Because the chief of staff to the President and his lawyer both went along with the FBI said, don’t give these people clearances.

BRENNAN: — right, there was something clearly that could not be resolved by the investigators, but yet, Donald Trump decided to overrule that component, whether it was the FBI or somebody else, as well as his chief of staff and the White House counsel, decide to overrule it for nepotism purposes, to give those clearances. So, I think it again says a lot about Donald Trump and how he just totally tramples the system and process and whatever integrity the system has. So, again, I don’t know what it is, that Jared Kushner or Ivanka had in their past or their concerns about. You know, financial entanglements with foreign entities is something the investigators will look very carefully at because they don’t want individuals with this nation’s secrets to be in any situation that could be compromised because of those relationships that they have.

MATTHEWS: Do you see him — it’s always hard to make references in history to who Trump is. I mean, I think of him as someone who’s come in to our system, trashed NATO, trashed our alliances, made friends — publicly flirting with people like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, publicly flirting through his family with MLB — whatever his name, over in Saudi Arabia, a killer of an American journalist. Flaunt all of the rules of what we thought of ourselves as a good guys of the world, and we hung around with other good guys, and we fought bad guys, either through diplomacy or war, whatever it took, or containment, we always knew what side we were on. It’s like Trump has jumped the bounds, jumped the tracks and he’s just joining the other side. What do you make of that?

BRENNAN: Well, I think he has no sense or knowledge of history, of the Constitution, of law, of our system of checks and balances, but more ominously, he doesn’t care. He only cares about himself, and that’s why over the last two-plus years, it’s been —

MATTHEWS: When did you come to that conclusion this is just a show up, showing off?

BRENNAN: — pretty early on in this presidency. I was very skeptical that he was going to be able to rise to the occasion. I thought he was going to continue to carry out his duties and his work the way he has many years, which is by skirting the law, by skirting ethics and principles and just pursuing a very unilateral agenda and that’s why I think it’s happened.

MATTHEWS: What happened to our belief, because you’re — we’re the same age roughly and I got to tell you, when you grow up with the idea that the office would change a man — that maybe not in Nixon’s case because he was a mixed bag and a bad guy in many ways, but actually a mixed bag, but Harry Truman taught us, you know, a guy of limited ability, if he has patriotism will come in and do a good job and make the right decision. That’s always been our sort of populist notion of democracy. You don’t have to be a PhD in political science or whatever else, you don’t have to be Ivy League or anything because if you have the right instincts, you’ll make a great president.

BRENNAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: It doesn’t work at all with him.

BRENNAN: Well, it shows if you’re a master charlatan, a snake oil salesman, and that you can snooker so many people, you can get away with a lot and that has happened with Donald Trump, but the people I blame most are those people who know better, our senators, congressmen of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Mitch McConnell.

BRENNAN: Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, how they’ve sold out their principles in this country, how they’ve held their nose over what Donald Trump is doing. I think history is going to treat them very, very accurately which is they really just sold themselves because of Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Because it was George Marshall, Truman and then Eisenhower, and all those guys — Kennedy and all, they really did build this world order that made sense and we won the Cold War because of it.

BRENNAN: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the icons of both parties over so many years. Donald Trump is nothing like any of those people. He is his own person, but, unfortunately, he has been able to get a lot of people to just unfortunately kowtow to him.

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about North Korea, could it have been worse? The summit because I keep reading from the experts. It could have been worse. He could have given away the 38th parallel? Just giving it away, we’re pulling our troops out.

BRENNAN: Yeah, some people claimed it’s a success because he walked away. Well, no, he put this thing together and it is collapsing unfortunately, and we see now that there’s additional work

MATTHEWS: The launching pads are working.

BRENNAN: — that is being done in North Korea. So, I guess it could have been worse, but the fact he continues to suspend the military exercises, the ones that the U.S. military relies on in order to insure the interoperability and coordination between not just the United States and South Korea but also our regional partners and allies. This is really hurting our national security interest.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to it could have been worse, because I like to believe there’s hope now. If he cut a deal with Kim Jong-un that said, okay, if you get rid of all your weapons, you get rid of your production facilities for fishing — fusion, everything else, you get rid of all of it, we’ll pull our troops out of the 38th Parallel and leave the door open for invasion, that would have been worse, wouldn’t it?

BRENNAN: Well, yes and there are a lot of worse things, but I do think what perturbed the North Koreans was the apparent misrepresentation of Donald Trump of what the North Koreans were asking for. Donald Trump’s claims that they wanted total sanction relief and the North Koreans came out publicly and said no, we don’t want that. I still think they were asking for too much, but you need to be able to see some type of accommodation to move down the path of denuclearization. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we need to continue to engage and so, I’m hoping that the experts on our side are still working with the North Koreans.

MATTHEWS: Well, it did finally get him to Vietnam, didn’t it? 

BRENNAN: Well, that’s —

MATTHEWS: Just kidding. Anyway, thank you, John Brennan. 

BRENNAN: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: You’re an expert and a patriot.


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