Outgoing CIA director John Brennan gave President-elect Donald Trump a thorough dressing-down during televised remarks on Sunday, chastising the president-elect for the “spontaneity” in his “words and actions” and for lacking a “full appreciation and understanding” of the threat posed by Russia.
Brennan suggested that Trump had to start looking out for national security, rather than protecting his personal reputation.
“It’s more than just about Mr. Trump,” Brennan said. “It’s about the United States of America.”
Brennan’s remarks were aired during a segment on “Fox News Sunday,” and lay bare the ongoing hostilities between spy agency officials and the president-elect, who has frequently snubbed intelligence findings alleging Russian involvement in the election.
“Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected,” Brennan said.
Last week, Trump took to twitter to blast the complicity of the intelligence community in the publication of a dossier containing shocking but unverified allegations about long-standing ties between the president-elect and the Kremlin. Trump doubled down on his criticisms of U.S. intelligence at a press conference later that day, likening them to “Nazi Germany,” a comparison that Brennan on Sunday described as “outrageous.”
“I take great umbrage at that,” Brennan said. “There is no reason for Mr Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community” for a dossier that was compiled by a private spy firm. Christopher Steele, a British former intelligence officer, has since been revealed as the author of the report.
Brennan noted that the dossier is still unverified.
Brennan said that the current distrust and hostility between the president-elect and the intelligence community invites “many dangers.” “The world is watching now what Mr. Trump says and listening very carefully,” Brennan said. “If he doesn’t have confidence in the intelligence community, what signal does that send to to our partners and allies, as well as our adversaries.”
He also implored the president-elect to use more restraint and be more disciplined when speaking publicly. “He is going to be, in a few days time, the most powerful person in the world,” Brennan said. “His words do have an impact, a positive impact or they can be undercutting if national security.”
Brennan has served as director of the CIA since 2013. Trump has tapped Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) to fill his shoes.