Former CIA director and Obama factotum John Brennan was on “Face the Nation” Sunday. It all starts innocently enough:
DICKERSON: We talked to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes last week. And I want to play something that he said and get your reaction to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: What we have is, we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: So, what is your reaction to that? We were talking about leads of sensitive information from Obama administration officials.
BRENNAN: Well, I think it is very unhelpful to make allegations about who is responsible for these leaks.
And I think we have to distinguish between leaks of classified information, which is against the law, and leaks of discussions that ought to be taking place within the administration.
And as far as leaks of classified information are concerned, I agree that they are appalling and they need to be investigated, they need to stop, because the impact on our collection systems and our capabilities can be grave.
So, I do think it is important to be able to stop those leaks. But the information can be coming from any number of quarters, whether it be intelligence community, White House, Congress, because a lot of people have access to this information.
DICKERSON: One of the things that Chairman Nunes said is that, particularly with respect to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, he said there is no one way anybody would know about phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador unless they were at the very highest levels of a previous administration, and that that is why he was pointing to previous administration officials.
Does that make sense to you?
BRENNAN: Well, again, until there is an investigation in terms of who had access to this information, how it might have been shared, beyond that — the senior most circle of individuals, I do think it is premature to be pointing fingers at anybody, whether in this administration or the previous administration, who may have been responsible for those leaks.
Hardly premature. Most of the articles that have contained classified material have been attributed to “former officials.” That, right there, tells you Representative Nunes is right. This stuff is being put out by Obama staff who were just leaving and still had contacts in the various agencies or by Obama staffers who had been held over for a short time, for instance, the Obama political appointee who claimed he was career CIA and couldn’t stomach working for the Trump administration. And we know Ben Rhodes boasted of forming a resistance. We know The Atlantic has covered this campaign of leaks.
From there Dickerson moves to the travel ban and Brennan explains why he thinks it is a bad idea. Then we come to something that just makes you stop and pay attention.
DICKERSON: You know, you are here speaking to us on the record, but I should ask you, have you talked to anybody in the press since leaving?
BRENNAN: No, I have not. You are the first one that I have talked to in the press.
DICKERSON: Meaning on, off the record, or any of that?
BRENNAN: That is correct, yes.
Dickerson then tries to move on to the next subject but Brennan insists on staying on the subject of him being a potential leaker:
DICKERSON: Let’s go to North Korea.
BRENNAN: Which is why, as people point fingers about leaks, I certainly welcome that investigation to stop those leaks, because they shouldn’t be taking place. And anybody who thinks I’m responsible for that is dead wrong.
Back in junior high we had a saying: “he who smelt it dealt it.” This meant that when someone broke a particularly foul wind you could invariably identify the culprit as the first person who complained of the stench. We know for a fact that Brennan is shading the truth here because he used his former deputy chief of staff to release a press statement blasting Trump over his speech at CIA headquarters. So even though he hasn’t personally talked to the press since January 21, if we believe him and there is really no reason to do so, we can be assured he has been playing with the press via cut outs.
Moreover, his denial is pointedly focused on “since leaving.” The biggest leaks that anyone is talking about are the leak of a CIA authored report claiming that the Russians intervened in the election to help Trump and he leak of Mike Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. All of those happened before January 20.
Why would Brennan deny that he’s a leaker? Why would he do it via a question he obviously asked Dickerson to ask? Why would he elaborate on his denial? Most likely because someone is getting ready to run a story fingering him as the leaker and he’s trying to tamp it down. And most likely because he’s as guilty as hell.