Matthews, Brennan Wonder If Trump Could Tell CIA to ‘Call Off’ Spying on Kim Jong-un

On Tuesday’s Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews and MSNBC contributor/Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan openly speculated whether President Trump has told the CIA to not carry out covert operations or compile intelligence against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and that he would willfully accept help from the Russians to get him reelected.

“What did he mean by ‘that wouldn’t happen?’ To mean we weren’t going to spy on him and who he’s killing in his family over there,” Matthews screeched after a soundbite of Trump being asked about reports of how Kim's murdered half-brother was a CIA asset.

 

 

Brennan responded with a predictable scowl, grimly stating that “he has no appreciation for the importance of the intelligence profession and the work that intelligence professionals do around the globe.” Going as far as to say to his fellow “Americans” that the CIA personnel are doing their very bests.

Matthews then followed up with this doozy: “Do you think he would call the CIA, the agency, and say, ‘call off the agents. Call off any recruitment of agents.’ So we — he can protect his friend, the North Korean dictator? Would he actually do that?”

Instead of instilling confidence in the agency this Communist Party ticket-supporting man led, he threw them under the bus by declaring that he “wouldn't put it past [Trump] to prevent the agency from understanding what might be happening if he felt that was going to be harmful to his policy or personal interest or objectives.”

Concerning 2020, Brennan fretted that perhaps Trump was “turning a blind eye to” what happened in 2016 “because he doesn't mind if the Russians involve themselves again to try to enhance his prospects for reelection.”

Earlier in the show, Matthews deemed it unseemly for Trump to employ “spooky language” to criticize Vice President Joe Biden’s stamina. Former RNC Chairman and MSNBC Republican Michael Steele replied that “it’s funny” considering “a lot of what Trump was say being Biden, people are thinking about him.”

This, of course, was a rather amusing complaint considering the speculation on MSNBC and like-minded outlets about the President having Alzheimer’s or dementia.

USA Today’s Susan Page followed movements later by arguing that the Trump campaign lacked messaging and their rhetoric was tiring to the American people (click “expand”):

Well, in fact, remarkably, we’re not — I think, we’re not seeing a strategic plan for the President's reelection. It's — it’s interesting because, you know, he actually declared his reelection campaign the day he was inaugurated for his first term, but we see very much a kind of short-term punch and counter punch campaign. We don't see — we don’t see plans for what I would do in my second term. The kind of thing we heard from incumbent presidents when they were running for reelection. What we hear is the kind of vitriol that really marked the 2016 campaign. I think, Americans must think do we have another year and a half of this coming up ahead of us. 

Towards the end of the A-block, Democratic strategist Aisha Moodie-Mills stated to Matthews’s delight that perhaps Biden could get “under Trump's skin” to the point that he snaps (click “expand”):

MODDIE-MILLS: I think we might see A Few Good Men moment. where, you know, Biden keeps poking the bear, poking the bear, and maybe Trump, in a couple of months, just says you know what? You can't handle the truth and literally gives himself up and essentially says you know what? Everything you all believe about me is right and I don't care and that he is going to do that because he’s so frazzled by Joe Biden the way that he’s coming at him. Maybe that would get him undone.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That would be good theater and probably good government in a better country.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on June 11, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
June 11, 2019
7:05 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Michael, he has — he's back up to his old tricks. Remember with Oba — with — I always call him Obama, as if it’s O’Bama — anyway, with Obama and it's like he used to say no one knew him in school. This kind of spooky language —

MICHAEL STEELE: Right.

MATTHEWS: — that nobody knew him in school. How come like that? Like what? He was not in those schools. And now he’s saying, have you noticed that Biden is different now? 

STEELE: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: There’s something different. What’s going on? Is this one of these spooky things where you make the people — people think there’s something wrong with the guy's brains. He’s dementia? 

STEELE: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: What’s he pushing here this day — today?

STEELE: Well, it’s funny. You know, a lot of what Trump was say being Biden, people are thinking about him, so that’s — that’s —

MATTHEWS: The Trumpster?

STEELE: — the Trumpster himself. But here’s the — here’s the rub. What the president does out of the gate, if you notice the way they contrast their conversation about the other. For Biden, it was around policy. It was about how the country is coming together or not coming together. It's around this idea of who we are. This sense of us. Trump personalized it. He made it about Biden. You know, the name calling, the vitriolic undermining of his — of his mental capacity. The sort of taking him down — tearing him down personally. That's how Trump wants to engage. He wants to make it personal. He — cause that's what his base feeds off of. That’s what that 40 percent feeds off of is the sort of personalized attack against the individual, you know, irrespective of what is going on around him, on the economy and jobs, etc., Trump will personalize this. He can't take it into that broader space, Chris, because then, it becomes a different conversation when he talks about how this President has managed the affairs of the country versus how he manages his personal relationship. 

MATTHEWS: I once heard somebody, went to a boxing match and they said it was weird. It turned into a — it turned into a hockey game. 

STEELE: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: I mean, cause yeah, all hockey games turned into boxing matches and it’s like this guy, Trump wants to turn trash talking in the main event. Trash talking is the main event in politics for Trump. 

(....)

7:09 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Susan, the stream of consciousness here is pretty obvious. That was not strategic, that ramble we just heard there.

SUSAN PAGE: Well, in fact, remarkably, we’re not — I think, we’re not seeing a strategic plan for the President's reelection. It's — it’s interesting because, you know, he actually declared his reelection campaign the day he was inaugurated for his first term, but we see very much a kind of short-term punch and counter punch campaign. We don't see — we don’t see plans for what I would do in my second term. The kind of thing we heard from incumbent presidents when they were running for reelection. What we hear is the kind of vitriol that really marked the 2016 campaign. I think, Americans must think do we have another year and a half of this coming up ahead of us. 

(....)

7:11 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: And you, Michael and I, are both Roman Catholic and I’m thinking: Is that — is Trump going to make the risk of going hard on the life issue next year — really hard on it, hitting Biden for giving up on the Hyde amendment or is be careful because that might hurt him in the ‘burbs? 

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS: I think that he’s constantly going to go hard. I think he’s always going to play to his most extreme base because those are the people who show up for him. I wonder, though, about Biden’s calculus on this, too. I wonder if Biden thinks and he's pretty going hard to the paint too with the back and forth, if he thinks that he can rattle this guy. 

MATTHEWS: You’ve been watching the NBA this week, haven’t you? 

MOODIE-MILLS: Right.

MATTHEWS: Go to the paint. 

MOODIE-MILLS: Go to the paint. I think that he is really — Biden gets that he gets under trump's skin and I think we might see A Few Good Men moment where, you know, Biden keeps poking the bear, poking the bear, and maybe Trump, in a couple of months, just says you know what? You can't handle the truth and literally gives himself up and essentially says you know what? Everything you all believe about me is right and I don't care and that he is going to do that because he’s so frazzled by Joe Biden the way that he’s coming at him. Maybe that would get him undone.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That would be good theater and probably good government in a better country.

(....)

7:38 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Wall Street Journal, by the way, Mr. Director, is reporting today that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, his half-brother was a source for the CIA before he was killed in a nerve agent attack over in Malaysia at that airport in 2017. President Trump was asked about that report today and whether he thinks Kim Jong-un had anything to do with his half brother's death. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the CIA wrong? Did he have his half-brother killed?

TRUMP: I don't know anything under that. I know this that the relationship is such that that wouldn't happen under my auspices, but I don’t know about that. Nobody knows. 

MATTHEWS: What did he mean by “that wouldn’t happen?” 

JOHN BRENNAN: I have no idea

MATTHEWS: To mean we weren’t going to spy on him and who he’s killing in his family over there? 

BRENNAN: Well, he has no appreciation for the importance of the intelligence profession and the work that intelligence professionals do around the globe to include going out and trying to recruit individuals to provide us the insights we need to keep our country strong and safe. So, by saying he — it never would have happened under his watch and, again, I’m not going to talk about whether or not an individual was a source or not of the CIA, but rest assured, Americans, that CIA officers around this globe are trying to get close to those people that are going to provide us the insights, the information, the secrets that we need and Mr. Trump always had a very, very sort of negative attitude toward intelligence professionals, particularly the CIA, which I find reprehensible.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he would call the CIA, the agency, and say, “call off the agents. Call off any recruitment of agents.” So we — he can protect his friend, the north Korean dictator? Would he actually do that? 

BRENNAN: I wouldn't put it past him to prevent the agency from understanding what might be happening if he felt that was going to be harmful to his policy or personal interest or objectives and that's why I'm concerned about the upcoming presidential election. It’s clear that the Russians interfered to help Mr. Trump in 2016. Is Mr. Trump turning a blind eye to that because he doesn't mind if the Russians involve themselves again to try to enhance his prospects for reelection. It's — it’s really quite unnerving to think this President, Mr. Trump, can, in fact, turn off law enforcement and intelligence capabilities if they pose a threat to him personally. 

NB Daily 2020 Presidential North Korea Russia Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Hardball Chris Matthews Susan Page Donald Trump Joe Biden John Brennan Michael Steele
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