Former CIA director John Brennan delivers brutal assessment of Trump: 'Unstable, inept, inexperienced, and also unethical'

  • Former CIA director John Brennan delivered a brutal assessment of President Donald Trump on Friday, capping off the most tumultuous week the administration has seen in months.
  • Trump is "unstable, inept, inexperienced, and also unethical," Brennan said in an interview with MSNBC.
  • Brennan said he has gone from being "angry" at Trump for his words and actions, to a state of "deep worry and concern" about what he described as a lack of leadership in the White House.
  • Brennan's comments follow a week that saw an avalanche of troubling headlines about top Trump aides, the Russia investigation, high-profile White House departures, and a widely criticized policy announcement that prompted near-immediate global backlash.


Former CIA director John Brennan says he believes the US is headed down a dangerous path under President Donald Trump.

As another unprecedented week of tumult came to an end Friday, Brennan delivered a brutal assessment of Trump, calling him "unstable, inept, inexperienced, and also unethical" in an interview with MSNBC.

"And I think this is now coming to roost," Brennan said, referring to the magnitude of the chaos that seems to flow constantly from the Trump White House. And he expressed concern that in the midst of it all, Trump is no more prepared to lead nearly 14 months into his presidency than he was on day one.

"There's a part of me that had been very angry at Donald Trump for the things he said and things he did," Brennan said. "I am now moving into the realm of deep worry and concern that our country needs strong leadership now."

RELATED: Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Gary Cohn: Former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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Brennan pointed to looming threats from North Korea and Russia in particular, chastising Trump for "tweeting about Alec Baldwin" while Russian President Vladimir Putin was "flexing his muscles" on the military front.

"And I do think, unfortunately, it is going to get more painful, a bit worse before it gets better," Brennan said.

Embattled senior aides, and a West Wing in disarray

On the domestic front, this week saw embattled senior White House aide and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner headline multiple troubling stories in the span of one day, including pointed questions about whether he might be using his official government role for personal gain.

Kushner also lost his top-secret security clearance this week due to unresolved red flags in his federal background check that he has struggled to overcome.

Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, was not spared. She, too, was scrutinized over international business deals that reached a coda shortly after her father took office.

The Trump administration also lost another communications director in Hope Hicks — one of Trump's closest and most trusted aides.

RELATED: A look at Hope Hicks, Trump's longtime aide and confidant

49 PHOTOS
Hope Hicks out and about
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Hope Hicks out and about
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks listens as President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau host a meeting with women business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks on the tarmac after the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's press secretary Hope Hicks is pictured during a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Republican U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump's communications director Hope Hicks (L) crosses paths with Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (R) at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. Photo taken July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (R) walk to board Marine One as US President Donald Trump departs the White House for Harrisburg, Pensylvannia, where he will hold a rally on the 100th day of his presidency on April 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Hope Hicks, White House director of strategic communications, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a 'hallmark of our democracy.' (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Hope Hicks, left center, and Kellyanne Conway, right center, attend a press briefing by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Trump campaign communications director Hope Hicks talks on her phone in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Trump campaign communications director Hope Hicks (R) stands onstage at the end of an event with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his newly selected vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, at the Hilton Midtown Hotel, July 16, 2016 in New York City. On Friday, Trump announced on Twitter that he chose Pence to be his running mate. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: (L to R) Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, and Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, look on as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House, January 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday that he will reveal his 'unbelievably highly respected' pick to replace the late Supreme Court Antonin Scalia on Tuesday evening. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway depart the Blair House as he heads to a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(L-R) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller follow U.S. President Donald Trump (not seen) on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (C) and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino (L) arrive at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Hope Hicks, communication director for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is pictured following a news conference at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
(L-R) Donald Trump's White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks, Senior Counselor Steve Bannon and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway arrive for the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Win McNamee/Pool
Hope Hicks, spokeswoman for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey on June 30, 2017. Hicks is travelling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to Bedminster, New Jersey to spend the weekend at his golf club. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway (L) and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks are seen on the tarmac of Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Conway and Hicks are traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon walk down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Hicks is traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway depart the Blair House as he heads to a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, incoming White House Director of Strategic Communications, walks through the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. President-elect Donald Trump won't end the onslaught of posts on Twitter that fed his unconventional campaign, even after taking on the formalized duties of the Oval Office later this month. Bloomberg: Peter Foley/Pool via Bloomberg
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (C) departs as she and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) stand on the sidelines while U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks stand on the sidelines as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks watches as US President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: The White House staff including Sarah Sanders, right, and Hope Hicks, second from right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a listening session with high school students and teachers in the State Dining Room at The White House on February 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House communications director, attends a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Trump during the meeting praised his former staff secretary, Rob Porter, for performing well in the White House and cautioned reporters to keep in mind that he has denied allegations of domestic violence. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (R) and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway listen as US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Hope Hicks, the White House Communications Director, in the stands during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, listen as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson leads a prayer during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn (L) and Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks leave the White House October 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. Cohn and Hicks are accompanying President Donald Trump to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to 'give remarks on tax reform.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey on September 15, 2017. Hicks was traveling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn arrive on the South Lawn of the White House for a memorial service for the 9/11 terrorist attacks September 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks walks down the stairs after US President Donald Trump disembarked from Air Force Oner at Morristown Municipal Airport on September 29, 2017 in Morristown, New Jersey, as he travels to spend the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 15: (L to R) Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders walk through the lobby at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump is scheduled to have a meeting on infrastructure issues and deliver a statement to the press following the meeting. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off off Air Force One upon arrival in Morristown, New Jersey on June 30, 2017. Hicks is travelling with US President Donald Trump who is heading to Bedminster, New Jersey to spend the weekend at his golf club. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications, steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey on June 9, 2017. Hicks is traveling with US President Donald Trump to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club to spend the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 7: From left to right: Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk on the South Lawn of the White House on May 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is returning from a weekend trip to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: White House Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway (L), stand with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan, at the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: (L-R) White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway; Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications; and Omarosa Manigault, Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, listen during a daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room February 14, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer discussed on various topics including the resignation of Michael Flynn from his position as National Security Adviser. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks (L) and Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon walk down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks steps off Air Force One on February 6, 2017 upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Rudy Giuliani greets White House aide Hope Hicks, on the West Front of the Capitol before her boss Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, January 20, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Hope Hicks, White House director of strategic communications, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a 'hallmark of our democracy.' (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
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The fraying edges of that relationship went on full display after her resignation was announced on Wednesday. Trump was said to have berated Hicks, who earlier in the week admitted to congressional lawmakers that she sometimes told lies on Trump's behalf.

The West Wing drama rolled on, with reports that national security adviser H.R. McMaster could be on his way out, and news that Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, is still smarting from the scandal around former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was ousted earlier this month over allegations of domestic abuse.

All of those developments preceded Trump's announcement of tariff hikes on steel and aluminum, which prompted near-immediate global backlash, and a declaration from Trump that "trade wars are good."

Former CIA director Brennan said it's all just a bit too much: "The longer this goes on, the worse it's going to get," he said.

Watch Brennan's MSNBC interview below:

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