Monday, Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani publicly dared former CIA Director John Brennan to make good on his threats and file suit.

Trump too, taunted Brennan:

Of course, any complaint filed would turn into a nightmare for Brennan for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that he would remain in the spotlight, and not for positive reasons:

When the White House announced Brennan’s security clearance had been revoked, the political press flipped a lid and declared a first amendment crisis, accusing Trump of trying to silence dissenters (Brennan is a vocal Trump critic).

At the same time, the White House said Trump was considering yanking clearance from Comey and others, all of whom have been accused of strategically leaking to the press in order to damage Trump. Speaker Ryan laughed and said Trump was just trolling, and he’s probably right.

Which is really the end game here.

Writing at Bloomberg, Eli Lake explains how the Trump v. Brennan battle is little more than political strategery:

As is so often the case, however, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Far from trying to silence Brennan, Trump is elevating him. He wants to make Brennan the face of the so-called resistance. This is the Trump playbook. Why do you think he keeps tweeting about Maxine Waters? He is a man who approaches politics like professional wrestling, happy to play the villain if it energizes his base. And for Trump, Brennan is a perfect adversary.

…There are at least three reasons for this. To start, a fight with Brennan is at this moment a great way to change the subject from the trial of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and the slow-motion revelations of his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who says there is a recording of him using a racial slur.

This also plays into Trump’s broader strategy. It’s no secret that the president is now campaigning against what his supporters deride as a “deep state,” a permanent national security bureaucracy that he believes undermines his presidency. The term is often used in reference to police states like Egypt or Pakistan.

It’s wrong to ascribe a single motivation to the vast network of national security and intelligence agencies in the U.S. government, or to presume that these institutions are more powerful than the president. Indeed, Trump’s very decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance undermines this thesis.

That said, running against the deep state provides Trump a rhetorical crutch. It’s a built-in excuse for failing to deliver on his 2016 campaign promises. Sitting presidents usually have to run as incumbents. Trump can try to run for re-election as an outsider. And is there a better poster boy for the alleged deep state than Brennan?

The best and final reason Trump wants to prolong this battle is that, for all of Brennan’s earnest passion, he is an easy political target.

Start with Brennan’s recent obsession, Russia. It’s true that, as CIA director, Brennan took a keen interest in the prospect of Russian agents suborning members of the Trump campaign. That said, Brennan was a senior national security official throughout the Obama presidency. It was not until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 that Obama began seriously countering Russian aggression — and even then the policy was tempered by the administration’s primary goal of getting a nuclear agreement with Iran. That deal was negotiated in part with Russia.

The press outrage was predicted and only helps Trump’s game. Further, it puts Brennan in a corner. He’s required (by progressive rules of political society) to “stand up” and “speak out” against the President or lose face with his media fans and anyone else on his side. But the more he “speaks out” the more fodder Trump and crew acquire.

Brennan has already walked back some of his accusations, giving Trump home field advantage this round.

Brennan is in a no-win situation of his choosing. He seems oblivious to the game he’s playing and loosing.

He’s been called out and it’s his move. I don’t see any scenario in which this next round produces a publicly favorable result for Brennan. But, he only has himself to blame.


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