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Trump is Not Trying to Silence Brennan, He’s Using Him as a Political Foil

Trump is Not Trying to Silence Brennan, He’s Using Him as a Political Foil

And Brennan has taken the bait

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When the White House announced Brennan’s security clearance had been revoked, the political press flipped a lid and declared a first amendment crisis, accusing Trump of trying to silence dissenters (Brennan is a vocal Trump critic).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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Agree with the headline. Trump is really good at living in other people’s heads to get them to do exactly what he wants, even to their detriment.

Off topic- it’s now 5:50 PM (1730 on my watch…) and the Manafort jury is still out. Bad news, methinks, for the prosecution.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to gospace. | August 20, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Regarding the Manafort trial: here’s hoping. It’s coming up on 18:00 here (east Tennessee), still nothing.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to gospace. | August 20, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Trump does do a great job of leading opponents by the nose, toying with and goading them. He has been doing the same with media. Today, media continues to make themselves less relevant, quite literally visibly shrinking before our eyes.

“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.” – because I trust a writer from the Daily Beast

I think JFK would beg to differ with you. Oh, that’s right – HE’S DEAD.

When the president is in line with the “greater agenda”, or even supports it (BHO for example), the intelligence community(ies) are always there to prop them up. When they are opposed, and exposed by someone who ISN’T acting according to plan – you get folks like Brennan. And dead presidents.

I found it funny – Rudi (on one of the interviews) offered to waive his Mueller case fees, if he got to do the Brennan case. Old John got his bluff called IMMEDIATELY. If he thought he was dealing with someone who had to run things up the flagpole with Valerie, Mochelle and the 32 other people on the distro list for the (/classified/secret) PDB – THINK AGAIN.

You don’t BLUFF TRUMP, and you certainly don’t want to play CHICKEN WITH HIM (just ask little justine from canada, or China, NorKo, EU/Germany, UK, France, Mex, etc.) and you DON’T WANT TO PLAY CHICKEN with the man. HE DOESN’T FLINCH.

This is going to shape up to be the most interesting mid-term IN HISTORY. If the left doesn’t get control of even one house – expect both THE RHETORIC AND YES, VIOLENCE to ramp up with a quickness. Which makes 2020 looking to be even more festive.

All weapons are cleaned, lubed and mags full. Bring it – we’re all ready. ARE YOU?


As others have noted, Trump is unusually lucky in his enemies.

Comanche Voter | August 20, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Brennan is thin skinned–and shoots his mouth off. This message from Trump and Giuliani is not really “put up or shut up”.

Brennan fails to put up–he looks like a ninny.
Brennan puts up a lawsuit; winds up with pants down around his ankles–looks like a ninny with no pants.

So it’s a win win—the only way Trump can lose is if Brennan shuts up. Not likely to happen.

    Dimsdale in reply to Comanche Voter. | August 21, 2018 at 9:19 am

    So, in a nutshell, Brennan is everything they accuse Trump of being, sans the testicular fortitude that Trump has in spades.

    The Obama toadie has become the Democrat Socialist toadie. Still a toadie though….

I’m not sure why, but Brennan has managed to put himself in a box and sealed it shut from the inside. Most political appointees are bright enough to simply slink away when their benefactors leave office, but not so Brennan. Apparently, he’s really into self-immolation.

Several of the Obama people seem to be rather special idiots. Loretta Lynch, on the other hand, is proving to be quite a political survivalist. Left the scene of the crime swiftly, silently, and hasn’t been seen since.

    txvet2 in reply to Merlin. | August 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Maybe it’s simply a case of having gotten away with being an incompetent leftist hack for so long, he thinks he always will.

      maxmillion in reply to txvet2. | August 21, 2018 at 2:35 am

      That and maybe he’s hiding something that he doesn’t want found out– his best defense being his crazy offense.

      Dave in reply to txvet2. | August 21, 2018 at 6:19 am

      They ALL know with certainty that they’ll be able to get away with anything. Did you not see the condescension on Strzok’s face during his testimony? He knew that at least a some of what he said under oath were outright lies? He believes he’s untouchable, and I think he’s right. Has McCabe been charged for lying FOUR TIMES to investigators? Nope. Does Bruce Ohr still have a job after violating federal law and DOJ policy? Did Mueller not violate DOJ policy in giving that blanket immunity to Rick Gates so he could better prosecute Manafort? Did Hillary get off scot-free? James Wolfe was not even charged with the crime of mishandling classified material for texting photos of the FISA Warrant application to his paramour Ali Watkins, only for lying to the FBI. Why? Because at least one (Democrat) senator on the Intel Committee approved the leak and the FBI doesn’t want to charge Warner…oops…too.

      This is all a game that will go on and on as long as Trump can’t fire Sessionzzz and Rosenstain.

Make an example of him, an object lesson.

And the other corrupt blowhard who “dared” POTUS to yank his clearance.

    Dimsdale in reply to Fen. | August 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Agreed. The list of 70, count ’em, 70 “intelligence” officers that are whining about this would be and excellent place to start.

    I mean, if an enemies list is going to create itself, you might as well take advantage of it!

I believe that Brennan is in the unusual position of knowing tons of stuff you and I will never know. Most people understand that and take his comments seriously. Brennan doesn’t seem to realize that responsibility and acts like he was Commerce Secretary. By having so much secret knowledge, we would expect that he would never say anything that would refer to this secret knowledge in public yet that is exactly what he is doing. Saying that Trump committed treason coming from an ex-CIA chief is a very serious charge and cannot be ignored. Either he is lying or he is telling the truth. That is not free speech. That is slander because he has since said that he found no evidence of collusion except the time Trump asked, (A joke), the Russians for help finding hillary’s 33,000 missing yoga e-mails. Now he is at the old spot between a rock and a hard place where he has to put up or shut up.

    tom_swift in reply to inspectorudy. | August 20, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    I believe that Brennan is in the unusual position of knowing tons of stuff you and I will never know.

    Actually . . . I’d be very surprised if the career spooks, analysts and assorted paper-shufflers at CIA tell the Director—a transient political appointee—much of anything. Certainly no more than they think he should know, which probably isn’t much, particularly in an intelligence agency obsessed with secrecy.

    Olinser in reply to inspectorudy. | August 20, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    As I’ve been saying – Brennan is a corrupt piece of shit shill for the Democrats.

    There are laws against releasing classified information. There is NO law against lying about there being classified information that backs you up when none exists.

    Brennan has been doing this *wink wink* if you knew what I KNEW bullshit for a year now.

chuck schumer’s statement: “Intel officials ‘have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you'” was a devastating indictment of those institutions, of chuck Schumer, and of his fellow travelers. chuck thought he was being clever, but this should be a dire warning to all Americans. chuck thinks our intel community should operate like the KGB, stasi, and ss all rolled into one. This statement was a look into the democrat brain. The democrats believe certain governmental agencies should wield extralegal powers, should be able to circumvent the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This kind of thinking is how we got the sham midyear exam investigation, the steele dossier, the illegal FISA warrant, the entire “insurance policy” and the ongoing russian collusion “investigation.” The modern democrat party is a threat to the United States Constitution, the rule of law, and the principle of checks and balances.

    Dave in reply to CKYoung. | August 21, 2018 at 6:22 am

    “chuck thinks our intel community should operate like the KGB, stasi, and ss all rolled into one”

    Chuck thinks that because the intel community DOES operate like the KGB, Stasi and SS, just ask the president, Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos et al. It is quite clear they do.

Again, I’m not sure what’s more alarming,

1) That Brennan is so corrupt, or

2) that he is so bad at it.

Wife says the latter. We expect the CUA Director to be a player, to he deceitful. We give a wide degree of latitude in that area because it’s part of a spook’s skill set, necessary for that job.

But to ALSO be incompetent at it? That we can’t tolerate. If I have to get in bed with an assassin and stain my soul with blood, she better be a damn good one, else my moral sacrifice is for naught.

To sink into that darkness is one thing. But to do it and come away empty handed is quite another.

So I’m shocked at how incompetent the former Director of CIA is. Has to be a post… but no, sadly it’s looking more and more like it’s not – he truly is a buffoon. Incompetent and now impotent.

It’s a miracle we survived his term without another 9-11.

    tom_swift in reply to Fen. | August 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    The ones we know about are clumsy buffoons.

    The ones who aren’t so clumsy that they give the game away with every move they make . . . those are the really dangerous ones.

    For a while in the ’60s, CIA was such a clown-car operation that I thought the really dumb stuff might be camouflage. Put a twit like E. Howard Hunt front-and-center in major cluster-f’s like the Bay of Pigs operation, and nobody will even suspect Agency involvement when it manages to do something competently and on the QT. And pretty much by definition, we wouldn’t know about the successful ops, so there’s room for wishful thinking.

    Just a theory, based on the fanciful notion that nobody could really be as dumb as they were putting on.

Saul Alinsky needed a copyright … or a patent

Welcome to “Rules for Radicals”

    Dimsdale in reply to Neo. | August 21, 2018 at 9:29 am

    “Rules for Radical Conservatives,” by David Kahane, is worth a read to counter this stuff.

Mattis struck fear in to the black hearts of all the former intel and government employees using their clearances for big dollar jobs. He brought up ‘need to know’. What compelling government interest is served by extending these clearances after they leave government service? Trump is just amazing. He has them on the run.

“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 his “friends” are using that wording seems key to me: “Brennan’s recent obsession, Russia”. Recent obsession….okaaay. Mix that with Brennan’s dog-scrambling-on-linoleum attempt on the Rachel Maddow to say that he didn’t have eyes on anything, especially that dossier, he only heard about it from the media, ya see….haha…paging Sgt. Shultz, “I know nothing”.

Kemberlee, I believe Trump has a gift of knowing how to troll the opposition. For additional proof, I submit Trumps “desire” for a very expensive military parade to honor our soldiers. I never thought he was serious and that he only wanted to paint the opponents as anti-military. My liberal sister has posted about 30 anti parade posts to social media so she was gloating that it had been cancelled. I pointed out to her that she and her fellow travelers had been trolled by the master. She could only counter that Trump is not that smart and someone in the Pentagon “got to him” about the cost.

Hilarious. Does anybody here think Trump really wanted a parade? This parade “fiasco” was simply the master practicing his craft, just like he is doing with Brennan.

    tom_swift in reply to Redneck Law. | August 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Yes, that sort of high-ticket bombast is uncharacteristic. Private, sure; Trump is the sort of guy who’d put solid gold plumbing fixtures in a summer cottage, but he wouldn’t festoon a public square with plywood pseudo-Classic columns as background for a speech. For all the rubbish about how un-presidential he is, he’s really not a Nuremberg Rally kind of guy.

They always return to the scene of the crime. As we close in on them they will start commiting more unforced errors.