During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity broadcast Thursday, President Donald Trump escalated what Vox describes as “authoritarian rhetoric,” suggesting that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference was a coup attempt.
“This was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government. This was a coup,” Trump told Hannity, comparing the United States to “Third World” countries.
The president repeated his claims on Friday during the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting. As NBC News reported, Trump described Mueller’s probe, the Democratic Party, and the intelligence community’s adamant insistence that he is “colluding” with Russia once again as a “coup.”
But during his interview with Hannity Trump went a step further, the president mentioned by name a slew of former Obama administration officials. Former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former FBI Director James Comey are the architects of this “coup,” according to the president.
In a Friday morning interview with MSNBC, Brennan hit back at Trump, dismissing his claims as “sociopathic ramblings,” RealClearPolitics reports.
“I don’t think it is surprising at all that we continue to hear these sociopathic ramblings from Mr. Trump claiming there was this effort to try to prevent him from being elected or to try to unseat him.”
The former CIA director said the he would gladly testify before Congress, pushing back against Trump’s claims that it was the CIA that had promoted the Steele dossier — a widely-scrutinized document authored by a former British spy, which alleges that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is in possession of compromising information with which he is effectively blackmailing Trump.
The former British spy who authored the now-infamous document, Christopher Steele, was paid to do so by the Clinton campaign. As The New York Times noted, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report contradicts many of the shocking claims in the so-called Steele dossier.
According to former CIA Director John Brennan, the agency pushed back against having the Steele Dossier used as a basis for Trump-Russia investigations. “That’s absolutely incorrect and 180 degrees from the truth,” he said.
Brennan also responded to criticism that the Obama administration had failed to protect the 2016 election from foreign influence, stating that the administration had “tried to be as comprehensive and transparent as possible” but suggesting that not everything was revealed to avoid “exposing” resources and investigative methods.
Brennan concluded his interview with MSNBC predicting that Russia will seek to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.