Brennan accuses Trump of dividing US: 'This could spill over into the streets'

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanNew book: Putin tried to reinforce Trump’s belief in a ‘deep state’ undermining him Retired admiral resigned from Pentagon advisory committee after writing open letter to Trump Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump MORE issued one of his most stern rebukes yet of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE on Friday night, arguing that the political climate in the country is likely to get worse under his tenure.

“Fundamentally, though, what he’s doing to this country, he’s dividing us … He’s dividing Americans," Brennan said of the president during an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” 

"So I’m really concerned that as he continues to play to his base, he’s further dividing us, and I’m really concerned about whether this could spill over into the streets,” he said.


Brennan and Trump have been engaged in back-and-forth attacks since the president revoked Brennan’s security clearance earlier this month in what was widely viewed as retaliation for the former Obama administration official's vocal criticism of the president.

The White House released a statement on Aug. 15 slamming Brennan, citing “lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary” and his engagement in “highly partisan positions.”

Brennan, who directed the CIA from 2013 to 2017 and was involved in the intelligence community assessment stating Russia meddled in the 2016 election, explained Friday that he was concerned by Trump’s apparent refusal to clearly agree with that assessment at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July.

“Treasonous is defined as a betrayal of trust as well as aiding and abetting the enemy, so that was the word that came to mind … This was an opportunity for Donald Trump to fulfill his responsibilities, to say, ‘Russia, cut this out, don’t do it again, and if you do it again, you’re going to pay a cost,’ ” Brennan said Friday.

The comments come as Trump has engaged in a new wave of attacks on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as the special counsel notched a major win this week.

Trump's former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortHillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe Comey: Mueller may be in 'fourth quarter' of Russia probe Flynn sentencing move spurs questions about duration of Mueller probe MORE was convicted this week of bank and tax fraud, charges stemming from Mueller's probe. 

Former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen also pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud as well as campaign finance violations, saying Trump directed him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of two women who claimed they had past affairs with Trump.

During his interview with Maher on Friday, Brennan also expressed disappointment in GOP lawmakers’ reluctance to disagree with Trump in public.

“Since John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE has left the hill, the Republican spines have left with him, and there needs to be some reckoning within the Republican Party that we can’t allow this to go on," Brennan said.

"I surely hope that those adults and those people in the White House and in the Cabinet and in the Congress are going to recognize that they need to act before there’s a real disaster."