Former CIA director says Russia could 'have something' on Trump

Former CIA Director John Brennan says President Trump’s decision to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his reelection shows that Trump is “afraid of the president of Russia” — and that Moscow may have compromising information about the U.S. leader.

“They may have something on him personally,” Brennan said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday. “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.”

Trump delivered the congratulatory message to Putin in a phone call on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post, he did not heed the warnings of his own national security advisers, including a sternly worded admonition in his briefing materials that read “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” Trump did not bring up the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. U.K. officials said it was “overwhelmingly likely” Putin ordered the attack, using a toxin only the Russian government is believed to possess. The British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the country in response.

“Vladimir Putin was the person who authorized interference on our election,“ Brennan said. “Vladimir Putin almost certainly was involved in directing the poisoning of an individual on British soil, and to congratulate him and treat him so nicely while he treats Americans with such disdain, I think it just demonstrates that he looks at the world through a prism of what is going to help and protect Donald Trump. That is not what presidents are supposed to do.”

John Brennan, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Jorge Silva/Reuters, AP, /J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
John Brennan, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Jorge Silva/Reuters, AP, /J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The congratulatory call drew condemnation from several lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain.

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” the Arizona Republican tweeted. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”

But Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, shrugged off the call.

“I wouldn’t read much into it,” Corker told reporters.

Trump’s reluctance to say anything negative about Putin has been noted many times. And Brennan, who served as the head of the U.S. spy agency from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, has suddenly become one of Trump’s most vocal critics.

Last month, after Trump declared he has “been much tougher on Russia than Obama,” Brennan blasted the president.

Last week, after Trump declared that the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was “a great day for Democracy,” Brennan excoriated the commander in chief.

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” Brennan tweeted. “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

Brennan — who served in various high-profile intelligence positions under Presidents Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — dismissed the idea that his criticism of Trump is politically motivated.

“I’m not a Republican or a Democrat,” he said. “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.”

He added: “I’ve decided to put my silence aside and speak up and speak out because I do think our future is in jeopardy.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Trump defended his congratulatory call to Putin in a pair of tweets.

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