During Tuesday’s edition of Morning Joe, the panel engaged in hyperbole when reacting to President Trump’s threat to revoke the security clearances of former Obama administration officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan. Keep in mind that all of the media overreaction came despite the fact that President Trump has only threatened to revoke the security clearances thus far.
Co-host Joe Scarborough first lost it after playing a clip of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announcing the President's possible move concerning these former officials. Scarborough sarcastically suggested that the White House was “also looking to take away the security clearances of Dean Rusk and Millard Fillmore,” referring to the long-since deceased Secretary of State under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and the 13th President of the United States who served in the 1850s.
Scarborough then accused the Trump administration of hypocrisy for bemoaning the fact that former intelligence officials are “monetizing their public service and security clearances,” pointing to the fact that President Trump’s businesses have benefitted from his new role as Commander-in-Chief.
Scarborough referred to President Trump’s threat to revoke the security clearances of former Obama administration officials as a “distraction from the fact that Donald Trump acted like Putin’s dupe when he was in Helsinki; that Donald Trump actually disregarded 50, 60 years of U.S. Foreign policy and adopted basically what the old KBG’s line was in the Soviet Union.”
He also said that the administration “could do a better job than throwing something out there that only turns the attention back to just how this is the most corrupt administration in modern history.”
The panelists picked up where Scarborough left off. According to Richard Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations: “This is an abuse of presidential power...this is Erdogan’s Turkey. This is not what the United States of America should be.”
Scarborough seemed to agree : “This is, I mean, talk about Erdogan, it reminds me, David Ignatius, of what happened with Erdogan after he took control in Turkey, who did he go after first? He went after the generals, he went after the military.”
The MSNBC Republican's comparison does not hold up when considering the fact that President Trump has hired two Generals for important roles in his administration. He hired General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and General John Kelly to serve as Homeland Security Secretary and later Chief of Staff.
Later, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius described the President’s intention to revoke clearances as a “political enemies list, pure and simple” and “so sloppily drawn that it turns out that two of the names on it don’t have security clearances any longer to be removed.” That comment prompted Scarborough to once again bring up Dean Rusk and Millard Fillmore, saying “they would be just as relevant as a couple of those people.”
If it was the President's goal to troll liberals, the President definitely succeeded.
A relevant transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not only is the President looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice and McCabe. The President is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the President is extremely inappropriate and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. They’re also looking to take away the security clearances of Dean Rusk and Millard Fillmore. The White House announcing yesterday that President Trump is considering taking away the security clearances of several former intelligence officials. You just heard Sarah Sanders emphasizing those officials having, quote, it’s hard to, it’s hard to say this with a straight face…“Monetizing their public service and security clearances.” Now it’s true and it has been true that private sector, the private sector does reward high-level officials for their expertise and access after years of service. But as we said, the key word is “after” years of service, unlike this President and members of his Administration who are doing it now. So let’s go through the list. Shall we? So just this week, the United States paid Donald Trump’s Scotland golf course $77,000 to stay for a weekend. That’s more than a lot of teachers make in an entire year. The Secret Service paid at least $63,000 to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in the span of a few months last year, and that is the same club that’s doubled its initiation fee and they did that right after Donald Trump got elected President. And that was where patrons could hear Trump discussing foreign policy just chattering on the patio about it, and the USA Today found dozens of lobbyists, contractors and others who make their living influencing the government; two-thirds of them playing on one of the days that Donald Trump was there. And in case you forgot whose course it was, the Trump Organization, which means Donald Trump, ordered golf tee markers bearing the presidential seal. An investigation by ProPublica found at least $16 million was spent at the Trump Organization, managed and branded properties by his campaign, Republican Party organizations, and government agencies since he announced his candidacy. The vast majority of the money, more than $13 million, put into the President’s pocket by the Trump presidential campaign. And Politico found that by September of 2016 a Trump-owned airline and properties had received more than a million and a half dollars from the secret service. Then there’s the web of foreign deals from which the President continues to benefit. And the blatant buck raking of a White House Counselor on the lawn saying, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Now, speaking of Ivanka, the first daughter and Presidential Adviser got rare Chinese trademarks approved on the night she was to have dinner with China’s President. Wow. Now that’s serendipity. Jared Kushner’s family business got loans after his White House meetings with financial executives and the two Presidential Advisors earned $82 million in outside income last year and then, of course, there is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he continues on in his role after admitting to holding on to stocks that he told the Office of Government Ethics that he had divested from, including companies linked to Russia and China. And Carl Icahn resigned from an advisory position ahead of a New Yorker article alleging that he had been pushing to change a rule that had a negative impact on his energy investments. And, of course, the list could go on and on and on, and, Willie, again, we know it’s a distraction from the fact that Donald Trump acted like Putin’s dupe when he was in Helsinki; that Donald Trump actually disregarded 50, 60 years of U.S. foreign policy and adopted basically what the old KBG’s line was in the Soviet Union. We know it’s all for a distraction, but you think they could do a better job than throwing something out there that only turns the attention back to just how this is the most corrupt administration in modern history.
WILLIE GEIST: Well Joe, I would add to the list that just yesterday the Trump Organization announced a new $196 million investment in one of its golf clubs in Scotland, north of Aberdeen. Eric Trump who runs the organization now said the time is right for us. Perhaps because the President of the United States is, sits where he sits and it’s good for business. Richard Haass, all that hypocrisy as Joe laid out is there and it’s good to remind people of all that. Let’s go back to the claim made initially by Sarah Sanders yesterday that John Brennan, that people like James Comey, Michael Hayden are “monetizing their access to clearance.” First of all, why do former officials like that still have clearance and are they monetizing that clearance?
RICHARD HAASS: Usually former officials keep their clearances. It’s in part an act of courtesy; even more if you’re in government, it is smart every now and then to check in with your predecessors. They’ve sat in those chairs, they’ve dealt with the policies. So for example, in a normal administration, if you were going to meet with Vladimir Putin, you might call in the national security figures who sat in on meetings with Vladimir Putin and said, “Okay.” What did you learn from the interaction in that meeting or how did you deal with this issue on Ukraine? So you want them to keep their clearances so you basically have the ability to consult. But the idea that people go out and give speeches for money or consult and…that’s, that’s one thing. And that’s based upon their name and all the years of government service, but the idea that they’re out there talking about secrets, just the opposite. You’re actually extraordinarily careful that you never cross this line. Let’s be honest what this is about, Willie. This is an abuse of executive power, this is…this is Erdogan’s Turkey. This is not what the United States of America should be. What this is is using state power to penalize enemies or perceived enemies and we’re seeing it not just here. Think about the use of antitrust to go after Time Warner and AT&T but not to go after, you know, Rupert Murdoch. This is the use of state power in a politicized way. This has nothing to do with people monetizing secrets. This has everything to do with an abuse of presidential power.
GEIST: And, Joe, like everything else with this President it is personal, it is about ego. It’s about the President of the United States turning on the TV and seeing the people on that list yesterday being critical of him and his policies.
SCARBOROUGH: And that’s what Sarah basically said; that people had been critical of his policies on Russia. This is…this is, I mean talk about Erdogan, it reminds me, David Ignatius, of what happened with Erdogan after he took control in Turkey, who did he go after first? He went after the generals, he went after the military. That’s where his purge started, and this is Donald Trump’s own mini version of it; going after some of the most esteemed foreign policy minds of a generation, General Hayden, for instance. And doing it as a purge, because you don’t like the fact that he’s being critical of some of your policies.
DAVID IGNATIUS: This is a political enemies list, pure and simple. It was so sloppily drawn that it turns out that two of the names on it don’t have security clearances any longer to be removed. What these people have in common is that they have dared to criticize President Trump’s policies; sometimes in quite sharp terms. I do think as Richard Haass said, this is an attempt as we’ve seen earlier in the attacks on Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent, the repeated attacks on James Comey that led to his, to his firing, an effort to say that criticism of the President, calling attention to the President’s actions, especially in the Russia investigation, is somehow wrong. There’s been an attempt to web some sort of criminal conspiratorial tone around this, and this is the latest chapter. Let’s just look at one person on this list. Jim Clapper has been an American intelligence official in one way or another for 50 years; starting in the Air Force. He’s been all over the world. There is no tough job in American intelligence that Jim Clapper didn’t take on over the years. I’ve interviewed him on the record many times when he was Director of Intelligence. The one thing I always knew was that he would tell it straight. He said some things that deeply embarrassed President Obama. In one interview, he said the administration just did not see ISIS coming, they didn’t take them seriously enough. That’s the kind of thing you want a real intelligence officer to say, to tell the truth, and to see Jim Clapper on this list along with the others, I have to say, it’s shocking, having watched his career over so many years.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, again, the ignorance of this administration. First of all, putting people on the list that already had lost their security clearances. They might as well put Dean Rusk and Millard Fillmore on there because they would be just as relevant as a couple of those people. I want to go back though, circle back though to something that happened last night, and, Richard, get your input. David, get your input. And also, Heidi, maybe can give us some insight on what exactly, what the hell happened on Capitol Hill? You know, we were talking about how Donald Trump’s company, Richard, had gotten a 200 or 300 million dollar grant, I believe it was from the Chinese government for a project or at least it was a grant to a project that the Trump Organization was affiliated with and soon after we saw that there was a clearance for ZTE, this Chinese company that…well, that our intel community said was a risk to America’s national security. The Senate put language in to strip that deal out, because Donald Trump said he…in a tweet he wanted to save Chinese jobs, these Chinese jobs, though, were, of course, detrimental to America’s national security. Richard, we found out that now during a conference, that actually Congress stripped the ZTE penalty provision from a must-pass defense bill. So Donald Trump had Congress in the dark of night slip in language that would protect this company that our intel community and our United States military said was actually a risk to America’s national security. Talk about that.
HAASS: Well, the evidence is strong that this is a company that has been creating real security problems to the United States. It should not be used in any way to deal with communications. Because one has to assume those communications would be compromised and intercepted by the Chinese. So the idea that essentially this legislation was changed to allow them to continue unpenalized to me is outrageous. Now, you know, there’s obviously the appearance of something of a conflict. I don’t know the details, Joe, what quid pro quo, what the motives are but it looks awful. And it just shouldn’t happen. Whatever the motives, whether it’s, you know, some kind of a quid pro quo or not. Again, there’s no, there ought to no place for this company doing business in anything that involves the security of the United States of America.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA: ZTE, Joe, stood alone, really, as the one example on Capitol Hill of Republicans being willing to stand up to the President when the Senate put that provision in, and as you saw the reaction last night from some of the members who spearheaded that effort, specifically Marco Rubio was incredulous. He said we basically got played on this. The explanation that will be given by lawmakers when I’m up there today asking them about this today will be that they did receive a concession and that ZTE will no longer be able to sell to government agencies; that will be a gradual phasing out, but everything points to danger in terms of this because this type of telecommunications equipment is, as you all know, a primary weap…tool used to spy on America.