Departing CIA director John Brennan criticized Donald Trump on Sunday for his approach to national security, saying the president-elect should not be carelessly “talking and tweeting” without understanding Russia’s threat to the US.
Brennan also said he took “great umbrage” at Trump’s suggestion that agencies biased against him were behaving as if the US were “Nazi Germany”.
“Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting,” Brennan told Fox News Sunday, “he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that US and national security interests are protected.
“I think he has to be mindful that he does not have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road.”
Trump has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin and criticized American intelligence officers, accusing them of letting “fake news”, about what intelligence agencies believe to be Russian hacks on political parties and alleged contacts with Trump’s campaign, appear in press reports.
“One last shot at me,” Trump tweeted this week. “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
Brennan called the comparison of the CIA, NSA, FBI and the director of national intelligence offensive to American officers.
“What I do find outrageous is equating an intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” he said. “I do take great umbrage at that, and there is no basis for Mr Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”
Undaunted, on Sunday Trump used Twitter to comment further on this week’s publication by BuzzFeed of an unsubstantiated intelligence dossier, writing: “Thank you to [journalist] Bob Woodward who said, ‘That is a garbage document … it never should have been presented … Trump’s right to be upset (angry) about that …
“Those Intelligence chiefs made a mistake here, & when people make mistakes, they should APOLOGIZE. Media should also apologize.”
After weeks of insisting that China or “a 400-pound guy” could have hacked his political opponents, Trump conceded this week: “I think it was Russia.”
His transition team has denied, however, alleged contacts between Trump aides and high-ranking officials in Russia. On Sunday, vice president-elect Mike Pence insisted there were no such contacts during the campaign.
Trump’s national security adviser, retired general Mike Flynn, spoke with Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, in late December around the time the US imposed sanctions on Russian officials. According to Pence, the men did not discuss those sanctions.
“It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation,” Pence told CBS’s Face the Nation. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”