Wallace, Brennan Trash 'Xenophobic' Brexit and 'America First'

June 6th, 2019 3:43 PM

On MSNBC’s Deadline: White House Wednesday, host Nicolle Wallace weighed in on President Trump’s “cringeworthy” trip to the United Kingdom and, naturally, Wallace and her guests (including two former Obama administration officials), trashed Brexit and President Trump’s “America First” m antra as “xenophobic.” And for good measure, they called into question his mental health.



Wallace first read aloud an excerpt from a Washington Post article that quoted anti-Trump presidential historian and frequent MSNBC guest Jon Meacham; who claimed that the beaches of Normandy “teach us the steep toll of isolation and America first – and should be perennial reminders that we cannot escape history.”

Wallace asked Brennan to weigh in on “Meacham’s point about isolationism,” trashing President Trump for “putting his finger on the scale for some of Europe's most nationalistic, xenophobic, isolationist type movements.” As Wallace spoke, her comments were accompanied by the chyron “Trump Plays Kingmaker With UK Prime Minister Endorsement and Predicts ‘Brexit Will Happen.’” In other words, Wallace was referring to Brexit as “xenophobic.”

For his part, Brennan wholeheartedly agreed with Wallace. After appearing to compare Brexit to “the isolationist movements that predated World War II,” Brennan accused Trump of “sending a very bad signal as America’s strongman…with the America first mantra.”

He added that “this isolationism, this nativism, this in fact tribalism that I think we see manifested in many of the movements around the world I think is being abetted and accelerated and emphasized by Mr. Trump.” Brennan was light on specifics as to what “movements” he was referring to.

Despite claiming “we’re not capable of diagnosing anybody,” Wallace later delved into psychoanalysis by claiming President Trump “clearly appears less capable of sustaining his own thoughts for longer than 4-6 seconds. I mean, it used to be he couldn’t follow anyone else’s conversation. Now, he doesn’t seem to be able to follow his own train of thought.”

At this point, former Leon Panetta aide Jeremy Bash ranted about the “dangers of Trumpism” such as “neo-isolationism” and “nativism,” in addition to arguing that President Trump is helping Russian President Vladimir Putin by supporting Brexit. It looks like the talking heads on cable news never, ever get tired of playing the Russia card.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of Deadline: White House is below. Click “expand” to read more.

MSNBC's Deadline: White House


04:23 p.m. Eastern

NICOLLE WALLACE: On the eve of the solemn, 75th anniversary of D-Day, the value and importance of America’s alliances and the stakes of the President’s sometimes contentious relationship with Great Britain has never been clearer. Today, The New York Times highlights the fallout from the President’s cringeworthy trip to the UK where he tried to play kingmaker in someone else’s country, a country where he is deeply unpopular and The Washington Post reflects on the uncertainty of America’s role on the world stage, in stark contrast to its strength 75 years ago on D-Day. Writing this, “the future of the postwar order won in battles like D-Day is anyone’s guess…In 2019, (presidential historian John Meacham) noted the beaches of Normandy have yet another meaning. “These beaches,” Meacham says, “teach us the steep toll of isolation and America first – and should be perennial reminders that we cannot escape history.” Joining our conversation, former CIA Director and now NBC News National, Senior National Security Analyst, John Brennan. Director Brennan, your, your take on, on that point about what D-Day signifies, not just in history, but warnings for the future.

JOHN BRENNAN: Well, Nicolle, it’s…it’s difficult to speak critically of a President of the United States when he’s abroad but I, I do think we all wish that we had somebody who was a bit more knowledgeable of history, as well as more dignified; particularly on the solemn occasion of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when the alliance, the Transatlantic alliance, demonstrated just how important it is to peace and security in the area, in the region, as well as around the globe. And I do think that a number of signals that Mr. Trump has sent over the last two plus years has really undermined the confidence that our allies have in the United States as far as being the ultimate security guarantor and that’s why when he talks about Brexit and other things, he really doesn’t have a grasp of the implications of the United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union, and he doesn’t understand just how important the, the NATO alliance is to keeping those countries together with the United States; strong, allied, and united in the face of whatever aggression we might be facing.

WALLACE: And just on, on the point, Jon Meacham’s point about isolationism, Donald Trump, whether he knows it or not, putting his finger on the scale for some of Europe’s most nationalistic, xenophobic, isolationist type movements.

BRENNAN: Yes, well this harkens back to, I think, the isolationist movements that predated World War II and the dangers that that’s involved. I do think Mr. Trump has spoken rather disparagingly about the multilateral organizations as well as multilateral agreements and treaties that really do strengthen the ability of the United States to work on these very, very important issues. And so, I think Mr. Meacham and others clearly see that what Mr. Trump is doing is undercutting the United States’ ability to be the leader of the free world and to make sure that these authoritarian leaders and these tyrants are not able to use political environments in order to strengthen their own grasp on power. He’s just again sending a very bad signal as America’s strongman and with the America first mantra, I think he underscores the, the sovereignty aspects of, of nationalism and the importance that I think we all attach to making sure that our countries are strong and safe. But this isolationism, this nativism, this in fact tribalism that I think we see manifested in many of the movements around the world, I think is being abetted and accelerated and emphasized by Mr. Trump.

WALLACE: Director Brennan, do you accept the premise that he is, at least in his mind, on his best behavior? I mean, is that a fair description of, of how you view his conduct so far?

BRENNAN: Well, I think as the other panelists have mentioned, he very much enjoys the pomp and circumstance that is part of a state visit, particularly in the United Kingdom and the history that goes along with the monarchy there. And when he sticks with his script and when he reads the comments that have been prepared for him, I think he is conveying the importance that the United States attaches to that very special bilateral relationship, as well as to the alliance.

WALLACE: So let…but let me ask you, I mean, so, so we examined him, we, we did not edit the tape that we started this program with, where he came in talking about…I believe he was talking about Prince Charles, he’s deeply dedicated, deeply knowledgeable about climate change. Donald Trump referred to it as something he was really into but also architecture, talking about the pace at which the Queen walks. I mean, if you’re examining Donald Trump, just, just, just observing him from a distance, from what is seen on television and advising other world leaders, what do you say about him?

BRENNAN: Well, I think after two years, I think we know what Donald Trump is all about. He’s all about himself. And he is somebody who is not going to be really interested in having an intellectual curiosity about the real issues that affect all of our lives and the lives of future generations of Americans and Britons and others. And so I think he just continues to have this sort of ad hoc attitude toward these issues and will speak whatever comes on his mind or tweet. And it really is, quite, I think, dispiriting. I think most Americans wish we had somebody who truly was deserving of that office. And to lead the United States at a very challenging time of world history and I don’t think we have that, we have somebody who’s willing to sort of banter on issues that he knows little about, and quite frankly, I think that he cares little about as well.

WALLACE: Director Brennan, thank you for spending some time with us today and every day. We’re grateful to have you. Jeremy, I want to ask you to pick up on, on something that, that the Director mentioned about isolationism, about…I think what’s so jarring about the Trump presidency isn’t just how he appears and we can talk around it, we’re not capable of diagnosing anybody but he clearly appears less capable of, of sustaining his own thoughts for longer than 4 to 6 seconds. I mean, I mean, it used to be he couldn’t follow anyone else’s conservation, now he doesn’t seem to able to follow his own train of thought and I don’t know what that means, if anything, but if I’m watching him from American allies or, or, or an adversary, I don’t know what I think. That’s why I’m asking the question. But also, whether knowingly or unknowingly, wittingly or unwittingly, putting his finger on the scale for these populist waves and not just populist waves, they’re xenophobic waves, they’re anti-immigrant waves and he doesn’t dance around it, he does so brazenly.

JEREMY BASH: Well, there are the dangers of Trump and then there are the dangers of Trumpism and one of the central tenants of Trumpism is this neo-isolationism, this nativism, this notion that we can pull up the drawbridge and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, that the problems of the world aren’t global problems, they’re only America’s to solve and so too, his vision, is for other countries to do the same. I mean, the way Vladimir Putin operates is if I can go mano a mano with any country, I can win but when I have to confront a NATO or a European Union, I lose. That’s why Putin is so scared of the European Union and why he supports Brexit, that’s why he’s so scared of NATO, why he supports fracturing the North Atlantic alliance.

WALLACE: And Donald Trump is helping him, right?

BASH: And he’s absolutely enabling him and there’s a broader issue too, which is much of Europe is up for grabs in the contest between the United States and China for economic influence.


BASH: And we see this with the Huawei issue that’s been in the headlines recently. I don’t think we are gaining much influence in Europe, in the UK, and elsewhere, in bringing them, Europe, into our camp versus China’s camp and that’s because we have an American presidency and an approach from this White House that is fundamentally ineffective.