Donald Trump raised eyebrows, to say the least, over his firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. It appears, though, that no eyebrows were raised so high as those of John Brennan, who used to head up the CIA. The former CIA director tweeted at Trump about McCabe being fired, and he did not hold back.
"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 wrote in his tweet. "You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America ... America will triumph over you."
There are a good number of SAT words in there, but "venality" is the quality of being open to bribery, "turpitude" is a synonym for depravity. Brennan unleashed his fury in response to a tweet from the president that bragged about his firing of McCabe, calling it a "great day for Democracy [sic]." This was a surprising outburst for a former CIA director, as leaders of intelligence agencies do not generally make public, partisan comments. On his Twitter bio, Brennan even refers to himself as a "Nonpartisan American who is very concerned about our collective future."
Brennan was Obama's CIA director, and he left office when Trump was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. He had a long career working in the foreign service and the CIA, and he's become more outspoken in defending his agency in the Trump era. He started speaking up before he even left his position at the CIA, saying just before Trump's inauguration that the incoming president didn't "understand exactly the dangers that are out there." When Trump pushed back at this and went on to insult the intelligence community at large, Brennan went on to speak more specifically about Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
"I don't think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia's intentions," Brennan said at the time, as reported by CNN.
In May of 2017, then, Brennan spoke to the House Intelligence Committee as a part of their investigation into the potential connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians. "I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion," Brennan said, referring to contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian actors. "Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late," he said.
In his discussion with the House Intelligence Committee, CNN reports that Brennan made it clear that as the CIA director, he saw that Russians had contacted Trump campaign officials in an effort to cultivate them. This claim was then borne out by various members of the Trump campaign's admissions that they did communicate with and even meet with Russian officials after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
This weekend's tweet is far removed from the measured statements that Brennan made in the earlier part of Trump's presidency, it's not the first time that he's come out swinging against the president. "You show an amazing albeit unsurprising ignorance of how technology, automation, and the attendant evolution of economics and societies have transformed the world," Brennan wrote in an early March tweet in response to Trump's move to instate tariffs on steel imports. "Your simple minded policies — imposition of tariffs — have the potential to seriously damage our future prosperity."
Still, a former CIA director calling a sitting president a "disgraced demagogue" is a level of political rhetoric not often seen in the U.S., or elsewhere in the developed world. Brennan, apparently, really thought that it was important to use those words in particular.