Brennan: Intel Chiefs Should Either Disobey Trump's Order to Release Classified Documents or Resign

During Tuesday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, the eponymous host interviewed former CIA Director and NBC News senior national security analyst John Brennan, who obviously criticized the President’s order to release “highly classified documents” related to the Trump-Russia probe. Brennan has made his contempt for President Trump perfectly clear, previously accusing the President of “treason” following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this summer.

While Brennan described President Trump’s order as “highly inappropriate and unethical,” he admitted that the President “certainly has the authority to do it.” He also surmised that the order “is something that Mr. Trump is just trying to continue to find ways to get himself out of the mess that he is currently in.”

Mitchell suggested that “the DNI and the top officials would not be welcoming this move” and asked Brennan “should they be obeying it, should they be protesting it, some people have said some people should be resigning in protest?”

Brennan suggested that the top officials “should push back against any directive that is going to have negative impact on our capabilities as well as the investigation.” He continued: “So I think they should continue to push, push, push, if Mr. Trump and the White House does not relent, well then I think they are going to have some decisions to make, whether or not they are going to just not follow that direction and to be fired or to resign.”

 

 

Mitchell then brought up how many of the documents that President Trump wants released have to do with Bruce Ohr, whom she described as “someone who has a great deal of knowledge about Russian organized crime,” bringing up worries from other left-wingers that the President’s order is “probably being cheered by...Russian intelligence and Russian organized crime suspects, because it might expose what the U.S. knows about him.”

Brennan concurred with Mitchell’s analysis and later proceeded to blast House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and the GOP for “abusing their authorities and their powers” and “very arbitrarily, capriciously and recklessly trying to release this information for craven political purposes.”

Mitchell picked up with the Nunes attack, claiming that he “has really hurt the bipartisan nature of his committee, but he actually brought this up at a campaign fund-raising event and said that it was very important to get this stuff out, he telegraphed that this would happen, saying it would be very important for the midterm elections.”

 

 

Historically, the media has always seen sunlight as the best disinfectant; always hoping for the American people to have access to more information, not less. The fact that they now feel otherwise proves that they have become nothing more than an extension of the Democratic Party, acting as though it has something to hide. Perhaps these documents will show that members of the intelligence agencies were “abusing their authorities” for “craven political purposes.”

A transcript of the relevant portion of Andrea Mitchell Reports is below. Click “expand” to read more.

Andrea Mitchell Reports

09/18/18

12:18 PM

ANDREA MITCHELL: Meanwhile, career intelligence and law enforcement officials are expressing shock and concern over an unprecedented move late yesterday by  President Trump ordering the public release of highly classified documents relating to the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government. Teams within the Office of National Intelligence and the Justice Department have been ordered by the White House now to work through a declassification review process of classified documents relating to the Russia probe and the FISA warrant, the special warrant for the surveillance of Carter Page. Gets reaction to this decision from NBC News Senior National Security Analyst, former CIA Director John Brennan.  How unusual is this?

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, it’s very unusual and it’s very concerning from two principled perspectives. One is that I think it’s highly inappropriate and unethical for Mr. Trump to the take any action that pertains to the FBI criminal investigation of Russian collusion, and Russian, cooperation with Russia during the election of which Mr. Trump and close associates are subjects. So that should not happen that he would able, be able to take such an action; he certainly has the authority to do it, but I do think it’s highly inappropriate, I think everybody who knows these issues feels similarly. Secondly, to basically order the Department of Justice and the FBI to release this information, even that which was redacted earlier, it’s really just pushing this envelope, and I think it’s making a lot of law enforcement officials, Department of Justice officials and intelligence community officials very concerned about the negative impact and consequences of doing that. So, yes, he has the authority to do these things. The question, though, is whether or not it is the right thing to do and whether it is something that Mr. Trump is just trying to continue to find ways to get himself out of the mess that he is currently in.

MITCHELL: Now, as we sit here and talk about this very important decision, the President, we just want to say is now coming out with the First Lady to welcome the Polish President, Andrzej Duda and his wife for a visit, they’re going to have a working lunch; we will have a news conference later today. We will of course carry that live. That news conference, probably around 10 minutes after 2:00, and as they arrive here at the South portico, we don’t expect any comments, so as you’ve been saying, the, the nature of this goes to the heart of those warrants against Carter Page, those are warrants and a wealth of documentation which could include sources and methods. Now, how that is declassified is up to the agencies, but, you have to think that the DNI and the top officials would not be welcoming this move, but it’s, it’s an order from the White House. Should they be obeying it, should they be protesting, some people have said some people should be resigning in protest?

BRENNAN: Well, I think Christopher Wray, Director of FBI, and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence as well as Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing this investigation, should push back against any directive that is going to have negative impact on our capabilities as well as the investigation. So I think they should continue to push, push, push, if Mr. Trump and the White House does not relent, well then I think they have some decisions to make, whether or not they are going to just not follow that direction and be fired or to resign, but if they really believe that this is going to have serious impact on our national security, law enforcement and judicial process, they have an obligation since they took an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to Mr. Trump, to uphold their responsibilities and their agency and departments’ authorities.

MITCHELL: Bruce Ohr is a current official, and is someone who we understand has a great deal of knowledge about Russian organized crime. So, some have suggested, Matt Miller and others who used to work in the Justice Department, that this is probably being cheered by, you know, Russian intelligence and Russian organized crime suspects, because it might expose exactly what the U.S. knows about them.

BRENNAN: Well, I am sure Russian intelligence services are just waiting to see what comes out, it’s not just the Russians, it would be others as well in terms of what FBI’s collection capabilities are, what was happening at that time, and the Russian intelligence services can put the pieces of the puzzle together, and come up with some insights that could impact and negatively affect U.S. government’s ability to, you know, carry out its law enforcement and intelligence responsibilities. So again, my understanding is that Mr. Trump as well as others reportedly, including Devin Nunes, have really not looked at some of these reports and now are just very arbitrarily, capriciously and recklessly trying to release this information for craven political purposes. That’s what it is. Now neither party, in my experience, has a monopoly on embellishments and hyperbole and even misleading information. But I have never seen the degree to which the Republican Party today, not everybody, but a number of individuals are trying to protect Mr. Trump, and to abusing their authorities and their powers, whether it be in Congress or within the executive branch, and this is something that I am hoping that individuals of conscience are going to stop and prevent, because I am concerned that this is just one indication that Mr. Trump is going to increasingly look for steps to take in order to further try to subvert the Mueller investigation.

MITCHELL: We should point out that Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman who in the past has been criticized soundly for his, you know, private dealings with the White House and has really hurt the bipartisan nature of his committee, but he actually brought this up at a campaign fund-raising event and said that it was very important to get this stuff out, he telegraphed that this would happen, saying it would be very important for the midterm elections.

BRENNAN: It’s just, it’s blatant politicization of the governmental processes and so Mr. Nunes and others are using their authorities, whether it be Chairman of Committees or access to information to, I think, very selectively either release information, leak information or to pursue channels that are going to try to enhance the ability of Mr. Trump and others to protect themselves from a very legitimate and lawful and important investigation that Bob Mueller, who is such an experienced professional, is undertaking right now. It is critically important for all American citizens to learn the results of that investigation, and whether or not it implicates Mr. Trump and others or not, I think we have to be ready to accept those findings as apolitical, and not something that is being done for political purposes.

MITCHELL: John Brennan, thank you as always. It’s great to have your perspective.

Political Scandals Trump-Russia probe MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports Andrea Mitchell John Brennan Donald Trump Devin Nunes
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