Last month, Hillary Clinton caused quite a furor when she said that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was “the favorite of the Russians” and that “[t]hey have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
There wasn’t really any evidence for this, but it was Hillary, so that meant it was high time for some people to go out and create it.
Next to MSNBC‘s claim that Gabbard didn’t deny it when she called Hillary “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long,” there was yet another ridiculous claim — and one that was infinitely more irresponsible than some panelists on an MSNBC weekend show shooting their mouths off about the Tulsi-Hillary showdown.
Former CIA Director John Brennan (because of course, right?) spoke at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday called “2020 Vision: Intelligence and the U.S. Presidential Election.”
This would typically be pretty anodyne stuff. Then Brennan was asked by the moderator, CBS News Margaret Brennan (no relation), about Hillary’s statement.
“Hillary Clinton got a lot of attention in the past week and a half or so for saying that she was, in her view, believed Tulsi Gabbard … was a Russian asset. And her staff doubled down on that … Do you see what she was talking about there?” Margaret Brennan said, according to Fox News.
Brennan said that while he would leave it to Clinton, he thought it was feasible.
“You can say something is a Russian asset even if it is not intentionally trying to advance Russian interests, but because of what it does or what it says or whatever, it is, in fact, something that is promoting the Russian agenda,” Brennan answered, saying he thought this may have been what she meant about Gabbard being a Russian asset.
“The Russians are very sophisticated observers,” he continued. “They’ve looked at a lot of different countries in terms of how they can influence events there, and sometimes it may be a third-party candidate, pushing money into the coffers of some of those politicians and parties that they favor.”
“They also push money into some campaigns that they oppose because they want to put tainted money in there and then expose it as a way to undercut and undermine the electoral prospects of individuals,” he continued.
“They will be able to befriend individuals who unwittingly will go along with their encouragement.”
Such people include “politicians who are going to be amenable, if not malleable, in terms of the overtures that they make.”
Unfortunately for Brennan, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would be considered Russian assets under this profoundly vague definition of it.
Now, granted, I don’t think that Brennan would apply this definition to them; this doesn’t involve the good people of Washington — just anyone who doesn’t affirm the former CIA director’s view of things.
If Hillary — a very good person by Brennan’s rubric, one assumes — says that Gabbard is “the favorite of the Russians,” who is he to argue?
Under a strict application of the definition that Brennan provides, however, the real “favorite of the Russians” here would be Hillary Clinton — the woman who, in her role at the head of the State Department under the Obama administration, voted in 2010 to approve the sale of a company which controls one-fifth of our uranium mining capacity to Rosatom, a Russian state corporation. That would certainly be of aid to Russia, “even if it is not intentionally advancing their interest.”
It also checks off another Brennan box: “They also push money into campaigns they oppose because they want tainted money and to expose it to undermine the electoral process.”
A few weeks before the Committee on Foreign Investment voted on the sale of the company, Uranium One, to Rosatom, Bill Clinton had been paid $500,000 to give a speech by a bank that was involved in the deal, according to Forbes.
And then there was Barack Obama. Remember that open mic conversation with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin puppet, before the 2012 election?
During that conversation, he said that he would have “more flexibility” with Russia-related issues, “particularly with missile defense,” after the election was over.
“This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama told Medvedev during October 2012 talks in Seoul.
“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” he said.
Obama also helped the Kremlin out by refusing to confront Russian interests in Syria, including refusing to strike Syrian forces after they crossed the red line Obama himself had set when Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
(Donald Trump actually did strike Syria after Assad used them again. I’m guessing that makes him the opposite of a Russian asset here? Not quite sure how this works, just going by the definition that Brennan gave us.)
Both Hillary and Obama, by the way, were involved in the “reset button” shift on American foreign policy toward Russia during the early years of the Obama administration.
That whole fiasco came because the former administration tried to be more “malleable” with Moscow but ended up “advancing their interest,” even if unintentionally.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been harder on the Russians than either Obama was or Clinton would have been.
This explanation by Brennan was an unformed, tossed-off answer so that the former director of the CIA could reasonably claim that a U.S. representative and candidate for the presidency is ostensibly a tool of the Kremlin.
John Brennan is a fundamentally unserious man who was once tasked with the very serious job of leading our largest intelligence organization.
For Hillary to have made these comments was irresponsible enough. To echo them with a definition of what defines a Russian asset that’s so vague pretty much any politician could be one is a new level of recklessness.
Yes, even for Brennan.
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