Brennan: Trump's 'Afraid' of Putin: 'Russians May Have Something on Him Personally'

By Susan Jones | March 21, 2018 | 9:01am EDT
Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Wednesday he thinks "our future is in jeopardy while Mr. Trump continues his antics." (Photo: Screen grab/MSNBC)

( - Former CIA Director John Brennan, the author of several scathing tweets directed at President Donald Trump, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday that President Trump must be afraid that the Russians "have something on him." 

Brennan said Trump "has shown a lack of understanding of international affairs as well as a real ignorance of what it takes to be president." He described Trump as a "cornered animal," even raising the prospect of a "wag the dog" scenario that could put the nation at risk -- that is, if Trump doesn't plunge the country into "constitutional crisis" by firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.


This was music to the ears of a cable show that has been undermining the president since he took office.

Brennan, on Wednesday, was asked about a Washington Post report saying that President Trump ignored the advice of his advisers when he told reporters he'd called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his election victory.

According to the Post: "When he called Russia’s president after his reelection, President Trump ignored specific warnings from his aides, including a 'DO NOT CONGRATULATE' note in his briefing materials. Trump also chose not to heed talking points on the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain."

"Why won't the the cards and say the things that you say need to be said to Vladimir Putin? Do you believe he is somehow in debt to the president of Russia?" MSNBC's Willie Geist asked Brennan:

"I think he's afraid of the president of Russia," Brennan said. "Well, one can speculate as to why -- that the Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult. Clearly, I think it's important for us to be able to improve relations with Russia, but the fact that he has had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin, has not said anything negative about him, I think continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear."

"You believe Russia has something on him?" Geist followed up.

"I believe that the Russians would not -- um, um,  they would opt for things to do if they believe that it was in their interest. And the Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things that they could expose and reveal."

"Something personal perhaps?" Geist prompted.

"Perhaps. Perhaps," Brennan said.

Brennan also was asked about the leak from the White House that Trump had ignored the advice of his national security staff not to congratulate Putin:

"Well, I think it reflects their frustration and probably also their disgust that the president of the United States, who is going to be talking to Mr. Putin, refuses to follow the advice of the Russian experts from the national security staff. That is something that I think they feel that, what's the sense of doing their job if he's just going to countermand what it is that they are recommending. So the fact that somebody called the Washington Post and gave detailed information about it, I think it shows the level of frustration has reached fever pitch right now in the White House."

Brennan said he's worked for six presidents, and although he may have criticized their policies, he has never criticized them personally. Until now.

"This is a very different person who inhabits the Oval Office," Brennan said. Again, he lacks integrity, he's dishonest, he's mean-spirited and he is not taking into account what really needs to be done as far as the United States national security interests are concerned.

"So I am very concerned about the direction that we're heading in, and that's why I have chosen to speak out like other former intelligence officials. It's lamentable that we have to, but this isn't about politics. I'm not a Republican or a Democrat. (Brennan has said he voted for a communist in 1980.)

"This is about the future of our country, our national security, our future prosperity, and Mr. Trump I think is failing on so many fronts," Brennan said. And what I'm most frustrated about is that he has hoodwinked so many individuals who have legitimate concerns about their state right now in terms of economics, about their future employment prospects. He has hoodwinked them. I use that in one of my tweets the term charlatan. I think he is masterful in terms of putting out messages that are deceptive and lead people to believe he has solutions to very complicated problems. So those are the people I feel most badly about, the ones that have been misled by Mr. Trump."

Brennan also raised the prospect of a "wag the dog scenario," where Trump would try to distract attention away from himself by instigating a crisis that would put the country at risk. He mused about what Trump, "a cornered animal," might do:

Military action against North Korea, Really doing something vis-a-vis Iran and tearing up the Iranian nuclear agreement and provoking and pushing for some confrontation in the Gulf. On the domestic front, if he sacks Rod Rosenstein or Bob Mueller, I think that really is going to bring this country to the brink of crisis. And that's when I think the members of congress, particularly Republicans in congress, are going to step up and do what is necessary in order to protect this country.

Thank goodness we have individuals like Senator John McCain, who is a national treasure, who will speak up forcefully when he sees this country is being wronged and when he is very concerned about what Mr. Putin is going to do to take advantage of us.

So whether it be with one of our adversaries, with North Korea or Iran; whether it is going to be one of our partners and allies that's going to have less confidence in the United States and then start to move toward Russia and China, again, hurting us on the international field, these are things that I think all of us should be worried about.

And I do believe there are individuals within the White House, the national security staff and also in the Congress that are looking at Mr. Trump seeing that he's acting more and more like a cornered animal and lashing out in whatever way he can. And who knows what that cornered animal will do once they really see the threat to their survival?

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