Former CIA director John Brennan blasted Donald Trump over statements the president made at Tuesday’s defiant, impromptu news conference in New York at which he spoke at length about the violence that followed a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Brennan wrote a letter to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer with his impressions of Trump’s performance, the network said, in which he took issue with the president’s “ugly” and “dangerous” rhetoric.
The president had used the Trump Tower podium to restate his belief that blame for the violence that left Heather Heyer dead was shared by “alt-left” counterprotesters as well as the neo-Nazis who flooded the town. White supremacist leaders, like former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, praised the president for his remarks.
Brennan said he was especially troubled by the message Trump’s remarks had sent to the families of those who had suffered under Nazism, and called the president’s moral relativist version of events “despicable,” and one that could “do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world.”
The head of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, Brennan has been a frequent Trump critic. Early in his presidency, Brennan said Trump “should be ashamed” for using a speech at CIA headquarters to complain about his media coverage of the crowd-size at his inauguration. Brennan has since accused Trump of going easy on Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to that country’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump, in turn, has wondered aloud whether Brennan leaked an unverified dossier that linked the president to Russian intelligence.
As has been the case with numerous members of the president’s party, as well as a growing number of business leaders, the Trump Tower press conference appeared to be too much for Brennan to quietly tolerate.
“By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk,” Brennan wrote to Blitzer.
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