In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, outgoing Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said that President-elect Donald Trump crossed “the line” when he used Twitter last week to accuse the department of leaking an unsubstantiated, unflattering dossier and compare U.S. spies to Nazis.
Brennan brushed off the significance of personal attacks Trump launched directly at him, which included a tweet about the CIA director Sunday that asked, “Was this the leaker of Fake News?” but was angered by the president-elect’s remarks about others in the agency.
“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 11. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
Brennan told the Journal in a story published Monday night that he did not leak the dossier, which contains unverified but salacious personal information about Trump and alludes to possible contact between the president-elect and the Russian government. He said the information did not come from the intelligence community, but from a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, and that he had no knowledge of it until last fall when reporters asked about it. The dossier had been circulating around Washington for “many months” and was published in full by BuzzFeed News last week.
“I think it’s the right and indeed the responsibility of the president of the United States to challenge the conclusions of the intelligence community,” Brennan told the Journal. “We don’t expect our information and our assessments to be swallowed whole.
“It’s when there are allegations made about leaking or about dishonesty or a lack of integrity, that’s where I think the line is crossed,” he said.
“Tell the families of those 117 CIA officers who are forever memorialized on our wall of honor that their loved ones who gave their lives were akin to Nazis,” Brennan told the Journal. “Tell the CIA officers who are serving in harm’s way right now and their families who are worried about them that they are akin to Nazi Germany. I found that to be very repugnant, and I will forever stand up for the integrity and patriotism of my officers who have done much over the years to sacrifice for their fellow citizens.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Katie Mettler