John Brennan’s Trumpian Turn

John O. Brennan can’t say he didn’t ask for President Donald Trump’s extreme attention. For obvious reasons, Trump would have to be the last person on the planet deserving of our sympathy after being roughed up by a trash-talker. But for the better part of a year, the former CIA director has been giving it to the president harder than the president gives it to anybody. Brennan has repeatedly picked, prodded and poked Trump about his Russia connections, seemingly determined to provoke a reaction. Appearing on CNN on November 12, 2017, Brennan said he thought Trump was “giving Putin a pass” by not confronting him directly about election tampering. “So it’s either naiveté, ignorance or fear in terms of what Mr. Trump is doing vis-a-vis the Russians,” Brennan continued. Trump responded, calling Brennan and other national security types who oppose him “political hacks.” But the career spy was undeterred. In the early spring, Brennan escalated, telling MSNBC, “If we have somebody in the Oval Office who is unstable, inept, inexperienced and also unethical, we really have rough waters ahead.” Days later, his tart comments turned acidic as he dunked the president in a vat of aqua regia: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. … You will not destroy America. … America will triumph over you.” In April tweets, he wrote, “your self adoration is disgraceful” and “Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.” From time-to-time, Trump would toss insults back at Brennan as if this were the old days when he would feud with Martha Stewart or Rosie O’Donnell in the pages of the New York tabloids. But it was Brennan who kept the fires burning. He questioned Trump’s loyalties and x-rayed his vulnerabilities, all but calling the president a captive of Putin. “The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump, and may have things that they could expose,” he told MSNBC in March. Trump’s character became Brennan’s target in a June Washington Post op-ed. “His focus is to win at all costs, irrespective of truth, ethics, decency and—many would argue—the law,” he wrote. “Mr. Trump grandstands like a snake-oil salesman, squandering his formidable charisma and communication skills in favor of ego, selfishness and false promises.” There was something Trumpian about the Brennan onslaught, as he roasted the president even on subjects removed from the national security beat. In early June, after Trump dinged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about tariffs following the G7 conference, Brennan climbed into the ring and threw several punches at the president, writing on Twitter, “Your worldview does not represent American ideals. To allies & friends: Be patient, Mr. Trump is a temporary aberration.” The strafing continued a few days later in a Brennan appearance on NewsHour. “Mr. Trump is a demagogue because he has preyed upon the fears and concerns of American people, some very legitimate concerns, but he routinely lies, he deceives, and he misrepresents the facts and reality,” Brennan said. “Mr. Trump is really an aberration as far as U.S. presidents are concerned, and that he is deceiving the American public, and it’s going to have consequences, negative consequences, for our national security.” But Brennan saved his sharpest—or most Trumpian—dig for the July day Donald parleyed with Vladimir in Helsinki. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.” However low your opinion of the president has descended, it’s difficult to interpret Trump’s kowtowing as any sort of crime or a misdemeanor or even as an act of treason. And while we might very well learn from special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation that Trump is a Putin pocket-toy, it’s a tad unseemly—dare I say Trumpian again?—for our former top spy to toss such charges around without any proof. Brennan’s language has provided months and months of cheap entertainment for all of us who suspect the worst about the president. But the only reason we listen to Brennan instead of one of the other million Trump-haters on Twitter is that he’s been privy to classified intelligence that we mere mortals will never see. We think, quite rightly, that he is endowed with special insights. But by his own admission in March, Brennan had viewed no intelligence that points to Trump: When New York Times asked him directly if he knew that Putin had something on the president he had to retreat from his grandiose claims. “I do not know if the Russians have something on Donald Trump that they could use as blackmail,” he told the paper in a written response. So much for Brennan’s confidence that Trump resides in Putin’s pocket or that he’s committed treason. This vivid contrast between what Brennan says about the president and what he knows about the president should lift a small bubble of sympathy for Trump in the hearts of even the biggest Trump haters. Didn’t we learn six decades ago—when Sen. Joseph McCarthy did it—that spewing wild charges in the absence of evidence is a little uncouth? This isn’t to suggest that Trump was right to revoke Brennan’s security clearance for bad-mouthing him. He should not have. In needlessly politicizing the security clearance machinery, Trump has self-inflicted yet another wound upon his presidency. But let’s not pretend that Trump has robbed Brennan of his First Amendment rights of free expression. There’s no First Amendment right to a security clearance. And based on the op-ed Brennan placed in today’s New York Times, he seems not to have lost his powers of self-expression. In the contest of Trump vs. Brennan, both are losers. ****** For security clearance coaching, send requests to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. My email alerts claim that my Twitter feed lives in my RSS feed’s pocket. source: https://ift.tt/2OGA4qK #Headlines by: jshafer@politico.com (Jack Shafer)

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Tesla whistleblower alleges ‘narcotics trafficking’ and ‘unauthorized wiretapping’ in SEC complaint

What in the fresh hell is going on at Tesla? About 20 miles due west of Reno sits the monumental Tesla Gigafactory. Construction started on the now almost 5-million-square-foot building in 2014, with the goal of creating, on a massive scale, the batteries needed to power the company’s electric cars. But if a newly released summary of a SEC complaint is to be believed, that’s not all that’s going on inside those walls. SEE ALSO: Sure looks like the SEC is investigating Elon Musk’s ‘funding secured’ tweet The document, sent to Mashable by the law firm Meissner Associates, contains allegations made by a former Gigafactor employee that run the gauntlet from “unauthorized wiretapping and hacking,” to possible “narcotics trafficking,” with a little $37 million copper theft thrown in for good measure. Read more… More about Tesla, Elon Musk, Sec, Gigafactory, and Tech source: https://ift.tt/2MvALGd #Headlines by: Jack Morse

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Detained Ugandan pop star politician ‘in dire state’

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, who sings as Bobi Wine, charged during closed court session over stoning of presidential convoy Lawyers for a pop singer turned politician and prominent critic of Uganda’s veteran ruler Yoweri Museveni claim he has been badly beaten up, following his arrest after the presidential convoy was pelted with stones. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known to fans as Bobi Wine, was charged in a military court on Thursday with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. He had been arrested in the north-western town of Arua on Tuesday, after clashes broke out on Monday during campaigning for a byelection. Continue reading… source: https://ift.tt/2nIRgRj #Headlines by: Jason Burke Africa correspondent

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Trump labels media ‘the opposition party’ as newspapers push back en masse

President Donald Trump lashed out at the media Thursday morning, identifying the “fake news” as “the opposition party” on the same day that hundreds of newspapers nationwide printed editorials critical of the president’s rhetoric towards the media. “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. More than 350 news outlets published editorials Thursday denouncing the president’s threats against the press. The call for the widespread rebuke of the president was spurred by The Boston Globe. “Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people,'” the Boston Globe’s editorial board wrote. “This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences.” The list of outlets publishing editorials refuting the president’s claim that the press is “the enemy of the people” ranges from big-city newspapers like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune to smaller ones like the Van Buren County Democrat and the Swift County Monitor-News. The president dug into the Globe’s campaign further, saying the newspaper is “in collusion” with other publications for denouncing his insults. “The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!” Trump tweeted. The Times in 2013 sold the Globe for $70 million. It was initially bought for $1.1 billion in 1993 by the Times. Trump continued to bash the press Thursday morning, claiming once again that the media does not report the truth and is instead “trying to hurt people.” “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS,” the president wrote online. “The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!” Trump has consistently railed against the media dating back to his presidential campaign, labeling outlets and reporters as “fake news” when they publish reporting critical of him or his administration. Animosity towards the press from the administration has spiked in recent weeks, marked most notably by the White House denying access to an open press event to a CNN reporter. At Trump’s rallies, news organizations have begun to hire private security to protect their reporters from attendees, who often hurl insults at and heckle the press. source: https://ift.tt/2MshyFj #Headlines by: rmorin@politico.com (Rebecca Morin)

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‘The sound of children screaming keeps replaying’: a Red Cross nurse in Yemen

Marta Rivas Blanco shares her account of the day a bus carrying children was attacked in Yemen A week ago, 40 children and 11 adults were killed in an attack on a bus carrying children in Yemen. Many of the children were treated at a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Marta Rivas Blanco, an ICRC nurse, shares her account of the day. They came to the hospital in cars and ambulances. Dozens of children with an array of grisly wounds. Some were screaming, some were scared. Many went straight to the morgue. Continue reading… source: https://ift.tt/2MslXIl #Headlines by: Marta Rivas Blanco at Al-Talh hospital in Yemen

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Russian ‘mothers’ rally for young anarchists jailed over ‘revolution plot’

Demonstrators carry toys owned by their sons and daughters – highlighting the ages of some of those who have been arrested source: https://ift.tt/2ODrM2Z #Headlines by: Oliver Carroll

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‘Trump’s claims of no collusion are hogwash’: ex-CIA chief John Brennan hits back

Trump revokes security clearance, citing Mueller inquiry Sarah Sanders attacks Brennan’s ‘erratic conduct and behavior’ Donald Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan’s on Wednesday afternoon – at first citing “erratic conduct and behavior” but later making a connection with the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of Trump campaign links to Moscow. Brennan, who has served four US presidents and was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration, has been a vocal critic of Trump. Continue reading… source: https://ift.tt/2nHKBa4 #Headlines by: Ben Jacobs in Washington

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