John Brennan

In the Feud Between Donald Trump and John Brennan, It's a Shame They Can't Both Lose

It is possible to believe that President Trump targeted Brennan for political reasons, and also that Brennan is unhinged and unreliable.

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LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS/Newscom

Last week, President Trump revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. It's yet another presidential feud designed to force the public to take sides: Are you with Trump or against him? It's a late-summer matchup that brings to mind the eternally useful tagline from another ugly showdown, Aliens vs. Predator: Whoever wins, we lose.

The decision to strip Brennan's clearance prompted howls of outrage from the media. Brennan is one of Trump's most prominent and aggressive critics; Trump's move, the argument went, was intended to punish and silence him as political payback.

A White House spokesperson initially said that Brennan's clearance was revoked for making "wild outbursts on the internet and television" about the current administration, but Trump himself later indicated that the decision was related to Brennan's early role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal about Brennan, Trump said, "I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham. And these people led it! So I think it's something that had to be done."

Trump's critics, in other words, had at least a partial point: The president himself all but confirmed that he targeted Brennan as an act of political retribution.

Defenders of the president's move, in response, argued that security clearances for ex-government officials were profitable status markers, and that Brennan, in particular, was a loose cannon whose criticism of the president had grown increasingly erratic and over the top.

They, too, had a point: When criticizing the president, Brennan sometimes alluded to his security clearance, bolstering the impression that he was speaking with an insider's knowledge. In a piece for The New York Times last week, for example, Brennan wrote, "While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware—thanks to the reporting of an open and free press—of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services." The clear intent of the line is to leave the impression that, because of special access, he knows more than he can say.

Yet by his own admission, Brennan's accusations against the president were exaggerated. Following Trump's appearance with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Brennan called the the president's actions "nothing short of treasonous."

You might assume that when Brennan, a former high ranking intelligence community official, described a president's behavior as "treasonous" he meant that it was treason. Not so. As Brennan awkwardly explained on Rachel Maddow last week, what he really meant was…something else.

…For Mr. Trump to so cavalierly so dismiss that, yes, sometimes my Irish comes out and in my tweets. And I did say that it rises to and exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and nothing short of treasonous, because he had the opportunity there to be able to say to the world that this is something that happened. And that's why I said it was nothing short of treasonous. I didn't mean that he committed treason.

It is possible to believe that President Trump targeted Brennan for political reasons, and also that Brennan is unhinged and unreliable, relying partly on his security clearance to bolster his credibility as a critic of the president. (As Reason's Scott Shackford wrote last week, there is both good news and bad news in this story.)

But it is harder to see Trump's gambit as, in Brennan's words, "an attempt to scare into silence" others who might challenge the president. Or at the very least, if that's what it is, it's an attempt that isn't likely to be very successful. As Bloomberg's Eli Lake wrote, it's better understood as a move to elevate Brennan into a useful foil. After all, following the loss of his clearance, Brennan made the argument that Trump was engaged in a silencing effort in The New York Times.

This is a typical play for Trump, who likes to single out individuals in order to turn them into enemies: Think of his relentless and polarizing Twitter attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel or Khizr Khan. Here his choice of antagonist is far less sympathetic, but it's the same essential dynamic at work. Trump thrives on personal feuds and polarizing vendettas, especially those that entice critics into exaggerated attacks, which inspire greater devotion from loyalists in response, and so on and so forth. Trump has turned national politics into an unending series of petty tabloid feuds. He isn't really interested in a nuanced debate about security clearance status markers or profiting off of working in government; he just wants to perpetuate the cycle of squabbling, forever forcing people to choose one side or the other. Are you Team Trump? Are you Team Resistance? Aliens or predator? In this case, it's truly a shame they can't both lose.

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  1. Here his choice of antagonist is far less sympathetic, but it’s the same essential dynamic at work. Trump thrives on personal feuds and polarizing vendettas, especially those that entice critics into exaggerated attacks, which inspire greater devotion from loyalists in response, and so on and so forth. Trump has turned national politics into an unending series of petty tabloid feuds. He isn’t really interested in a nuanced debate about security clearance status markers or profiting off of working in government; he just wants to perpetuate the cycle of squabbling, forever forcing people to choose one side or the other. Are you Team Trump? Are you Team Resistance? Aliens or predator? In this case, it’s truly a shame they can’t both lose.

    No Peter, he is interested in baiting people like you into defending indefensible and unpopular positions. And the only loser in that is people like you who seem to be constitutionally incapable of acting reasonable and not taking the bait.

    But remember, Trump is the dumb one.

    1. It never ceases to amaze me how some folks around here have a direct and infallible pipeline to Trump’s actual-factual motives, intentions, purpose, or beliefs might be.

      1. You don’t have to be a partisan to see what Trump does. He does it again and again. He picks out a target, attacks it, and then watches his opponents and the media run to defend it and in doing so take an unpopular stance.

        What he is doing is so obvious and it is frankly not even that clever. But it is incredibly effective because our political and media class is composed entirely of idiot sons and daughters and misfits who can’t make a living doing anything else.

        1. John’s on point again.

        2. Completely wrong. Trump is a psychopath with authoritarian tendencies. The media is doing their job and calling him out on his bullshit and he doesn’t like it so he strikes out harder and criticizes them more. The problem is that only his sheeple believe anything that comes out of his mouth; even that herd is shrinking by the day. By 2020 even he might see that he’s being delusional and not try to run again.

          1. Wise Old Fool|8.21.18 @ 3:23PM|#
            ‘Trump is a big poppyhead and I know it!!!!”

            You can contribute to the treatment of WOF’s possibly fatal case of TDS, or you can turn the page.

          2. Completely wrong. Trump is a psychopath with authoritarian tendencies. The media is doing their job and calling him out on his bullshit and he doesn’t like it so he strikes out harder and criticizes them more.

            Has he subpoenaed them? Spied on their parents? Because that’s what I would label as “authoritarian” more than discussing how they suck at their jobs.

          3. I don’t think that word, psychopath, means what you think it means.

      2. Shirley, he got the Left to claim that MS-13 isn’t that bad.

        M-S-fucking-13 not that bad.

        He got them to compare antifa to the fucking Normandy landing.

        He’s getting them to praise James Comey after they condemned him.

        They are doing a fucking Go Fung Me for Strzok.

        And now Brennan?

        You don’t see the pattern yet?

        Hell, the Left is taking Omarosa SERIOUSLY. And they gave a laughable joke of an attorney for a porn star constant attention.

        1. MS13 – The Spark of Divinity of the Democratic Party

      3. This is John’s schtick. He is always ready to jump in with his telepathic understanding of what motivated people he’s never met, always demonstrating the moral superiority of the conservative Republicans and the moral turpitude of Reason staff.

    2. John, we all already know which Team you’re on, give the knee a rest once in a while. The constant jerking will lead to joint troubles in your old age. And BTW, you could have just said “Trump’s a troll, don’t feed the trolls” and been done with it.

      1. Trump is effective. You can call it whatever you want. But time and again he baits his opponents into doing really stupid things like standing up for John Brennen. I don’t really understand what is partisan about the truth.

      2. To be fair, Reason has been bleeding obviously on the Anti-Trump team for a couple of years. If the paid staff can’t give that a rest, why squawk at a free-content-providing commenter?

        They beat the same dog every day, just occasionally with a different colored stick.

    3. Ok, I have a confession to make. I’m not a Trump supporter. I’m a Time-traveler from the year 2023 and i’m Here to warn you from the future that it’s arguments like this one that got Bernie Sanders elected in 2020, whereupon he instituted a totalitarian communist government, put 1/3rd of the population in gulags, and inspired a ragtag group of fierce Rebels led by Rand Paul to build a time machine to warn you about the power of completely fucking mendacious bullshit like this above. You’ve been warned, ok?

      1. F- trolling. That doesn’t even rise to Hihn level. Look into attending a Russian trolling school.

        1. Trolling? Hardly. You try building a trans warp drive with Rand Paul and having to listen to him talk about the Fed while he hands you a communicator, ok. I’ve suffered a lot of psychological damage to deliver this warning, ok? Fuck you.

          1. Okay, that is pretty funny.

      2. Hold up, hold the fuck up. I’m also from the future, the far-flung future of 2041, and that never happened in my world. Either you’re a liar or this proves multiverse theory.

        1. All the Hihn variants prove the multiverse, you charlatan.

        2. Until you can perfectly if the cat is alive or dead prior to actual.observation, the multiverse most likely doesn’t exist.

          So my guess is one of you changed the timeline

          Great job there.

          1. … perfectly predict…

            Damn it.

  2. Didnt Rand Paul first bring up revisiting Brennan’s security clearance?

    Trump didnt revoke Brennan’s clearance for political reasons for Brennan being stupid reasons.

    Revoke all ex-government employee clearances.

    This is a win-win-win for America.

    1. Bingo!

      Continued access to classified information after leaving a government position justifying it is just another corruption of government power by the permanent ruling class.

      Brennan reminds of the Bronx cops who picketed(!) over the removal of their apparently vested right to fix traffic and parking tickets.

  3. KMW: We need you to defend Brennan

    Suderman: I’m just the hack you’re looking for.

    1. Suderman: I’ll even ignore all of Brennan’s crimes in the name of #resist

    2. Saying Trump was wrong isn’t defending Brennan.

      If Trump had a consistent policy of ending clearances of those who tortured, or lied to Congress, or whatever you think Brennan did, then it would be fine. But, he’s explicit, that the way to keep your clearance is to say nice things about him:

      Donald J. Trump
      ?Verified account @realDonaldTrump
      7h7 hours ago

      Even James Clapper has admonished John Brennan for having gone totally off the rails. Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance for lying to Congress!

      Security clearances shouldn’t be based on a loyalty test to the President.

      1. Sure it is defending Brennen. According to you, he should have his clearance back. That is defending Brennen.

      2. Security clearances have always been a political question. There is nothing of concern with a president stripping a security clearance, particularly of someone who will never be asked to consult on intelligence within the administration.

      3. “Security clearances shouldn’t be based on a loyalty test to the President.”

        Do you EVER post honestly?
        Fucking lefty ignoramuses…

    3. I don’t see this as defending Brennan so much as pointing out that both sides of this latest idiotic slap fight suck and wishing they could both lose. Which seems like a pretty reasonable position to take. The only way to see this as defending Brennan is if you consider any criticism of Trump to be defending whoever he’s an idiotic slap fight with. This time it just happens to be Brennan, a thoroughly disgusting and unlikable asshat in his own right.

      Saying “it’s truly a shame they can’t both lose” is not what I’d call a defense of one side or the other.

      1. Saying “it’s truly a shame they can’t both lose” is not what I’d call a defense of one side or the other.

        ^ This. But we have an awful lot of people around here these days who can’t tell the difference between criticizing one side and supporting the other.

        I would have said maybe we need some kind of Fairness Doctrine where you always have to be sure to condemn both sides, but as we see here, even when you are literally condemning both sides it’s still seen as being one-sided.

    4. Isn’t Brennan a commie anyway? And his ‘free speech’ shtick is retarded. A most wretched person from what I read. An Obama appointee who did nothing but undermine the President.

      Dehors! Out! As they say around these parts.

    5. KMW: We need you to defend Brennan

      Suderman: I’m just the hack you’re looking for.

      Did you…read the title? Or the subtitle? I ask, because it’s obvious you didn’t read the article.

  4. “It’s yet another presidential feud designed to force the public to take sides: Are you with Trump or against him?”

    Presumes facts not in evidence and suggests YOU have an agenda.

    1. I am pretty sure most people don’t give a shit that Brennan lost his clearance. That Suderman feels he is “forced to take a side” explains why Trump is so effectively able to manipulate the media in a nutshell. They just can’t help themselves. They must take a side.

      1. I’m alarmed enough that a nutbag like Brennan ever had any security clearance, let alone that he was head spook for a while.

        1. If Trump were going around yanking the clearances of anyone he didn’t like, sure that would be a story. But yanking the clearance of a notorious nutbag asshole like Brennen should be seen as doing a public service or at least a story that wouldn’t be worth covering.

      2. “I am pretty sure most people don’t give a shit that Brennan lost his clearance.”

        To be honest, the entire kerfuffle passed under my radar. I remembered the name from a headline in the Chron and immediately passed over the article as just one more ‘Trump is a poopyhead’ screed.
        If Suderman hadn’t identified him, I’d have had to look it up.
        ‘Taking sides’ here is ‘way down on my priority list, very near worrying about Russia ‘hacking’ elections.

      3. Its why ‘TDS’ is such a great label.

        The media and Lefties are clinical about their derangement.

    2. “It’s yet another presidential feud designed to force the public to take sides: Are you with Trump or against him?”

      Presumes facts not in evidence and suggests YOU have an agenda.

      In fairness, John, lc1789, damikesc, homple, and buybuydandavis are all around this thread explaining to us that this is exactly Trump’s brilliant plan, and that it’s working splendidly.

      1. How is his plan not working? Are you so fucking insecure that you must forever virtue signal at the expense of facts?

      2. Do you honestly think ANYBODY has good thoughts about John Brennan? Few things are smarter than getting your foes to defend shit stains.

        Like how we are watching #MeToo immolate currently. Let them do terrible things to themselves and just sit back and enjoy.

  5. >>>who likes to single out individuals in order to turn them into enemies

    alinskyism against the alinskyites is funny.

    1. “It’s not fair when the Right does it!”

      1. “It’s not fair also shitty when the Right does it!”

        FTFY

        1. It is quite shitty.

          It is also quite effective.

          Forgive the long-term targets of this tactic from using it themselves.

  6. >>>Trump has turned national politics into an unending series of petty tabloid feuds.

    you were born in 2016?

    1. Hey, everything was all wine and roses and reasoned debate before Trump came along and ruined it.

      Every time I read Suderman write about Trump, I hear the voice of Babs in Animal House during the Food Fight scene saying “that boy is a PIG pig.”

  7. he just wants to perpetuate the cycle of squabbling, forever forcing people to choose one side or the other.

    Maybe if the media would stop covering every single thing he does like it is a 21st Century Nuremberg Laws, he wouldn’t be so successful in doing that. Brennen doesn’t work for the government anymore. Chances are he never will again even in a Democratic Administration. So, why is his losing his clearance, even for the wrong reason, a story worth covering?

    1. Fodder for two minute hate.

    2. A) There’s no security point to revoking clearance. If he’s not doing work for the government, he won’t have any need to know access. So, why bother?
      B) He could provide insight or provide help to a contractor, who would just have to pay for the background check to reinstate the clearance, and charge the government. There’s a reason that people don’t lose their clearance when they leave government, it’s because the government would just directly or indirectly pay for a redundant check.
      C) Political retribution is illegal, wrong, and a hallmark of totalitarian regimes. You don’t have to read Trump’s mind, he out and out said it. One of the articles of Impeachment written against Nixon was for using the power of the state to punish enemies and protect friends.

      Most of the country realized that the Nixon playbook wasn’t a good one.

      1. A) There’s no security point to revoking clearance. If he’s not doing work for the government, he won’t have any need to know access. So, why bother?

        Because it causes dumb asses like you to defend Brennen. And Brennen is on TV siting his security clearance as proof of his authority. If he is using it for media prestige, he is misusing it and should lose it.

        B) He could provide insight or provide help to a contractor, who would just have to pay for the background check to reinstate the clearance, and charge the government. There’s a reason that people don’t lose their clearance when they leave government, it’s because the government would just directly or indirectly pay for a redundant check.

        No he wouldn’t. Brennen has made it clear he considers Trump a traitor and would never work for the government while he is President. He is only allowed to keep the clearance because the government might want his advice. So, when he says he would never give that advice, you can’t blame the government for taking his clearance.

      2. C) Political retribution is illegal, wrong, and a hallmark of totalitarian regimes. You don’t have to read Trump’s mind, he out and out said it. One of the articles of Impeachment written against Nixon was for using the power of the state to punish enemies and protect friends.

        No it is not. You can only claim political retribution if you have some claim to the thing you lost. Brennen has no claim to a security clearance and the government can take it for any reason it wants. Moreover, in this case, his clear statement that he will never be of service to the government makes taking his clearance entirely appropriate.

        Most of the country realized that he shouldn’t’ have had a clearance. But since Trump is so fortunate in his enemies, this became another case where idiots like you defended the indefensible.

      3. A) Actually, there is a point: It makes it just that more obvious to anybody who still has their clearance, and was inclined to leak to him, that they’d be committing a crime.

        B) Nobody should be seeking the insight of this guy.

        C) In order for it to be “retaliation”, Brennan would have to have some right to the clearance in the first place. Since the only legitimate purpose for him to have a security clearance is to aid the executive branch, and he’s waving it around to oppose the executive branch instead, why should he retain it.

        They should all lose their security clearances on leaving their positions, just like people further down the food chain do.

      4. One of the articles of Impeachment written against Nixon was for using the power of the state to punish enemies and protect friends.

        In that case, every president since Nixon should have been impeached. They’ve all done that to one extent or another.

        1. And, notably, the articles of impeachment were only written about Nixon and as such have absolutely no basis in anything.

          You might as well cite the impeachment articles against Andrew Johnson. Hell, they might even be more applicable. (And he still wasn’t convicted, by the way.)

        2. every president since Nixon should have been impeached

          Yes.

  8. The scandal is that Brennan every had a security clearance in the first place.

    And I’m reasonably sure Trump was never evil enough to vote for the CPUSA, so he’s got that over Brennan.

    1. The media forgot about that Brennan CPUSA candidate vote.

      1. They did a lot forgetting in their efforts to rehabilitate that shitstain enough that he could be used as a victim.

      2. Did they really forget about it, or is voting for a CPUSA candidate considered a badge of honor amongst the media?

        1. I’m thinking their analysis sees it as a feature, not a bug.

  9. Regardless of whether or not Brennan should lose his security clearance for what he’s done after retirement or for GP as everybody leaving government employment should, Brennan should be dragged by his nutsack down the street whilst the public pelts him to death with rocks for what he did before he retired. But we know Trump supports what he did – he made Brennan’s evil prot?g? head of the CIA and defended her being worse than Brennan. As long as you praise Trump, he don’t give a shit what kind of evil monster you are.

    1. As long as you praise Trump, he don’t give a shit what kind of evil monster you are.

      By your standards, couldn’t the exact same thing be said about Clinton, Bush and Obama? And while that doesn’t make it right, it does make it pretty insignificant since the country seemed to have survived 24 years of those three without falling into the dark night of fascism.


      1. …it does make it pretty insignificant since the country seemed to have survived 24 years of those three without falling into the dark night of fascism.

        I’m not so sure about that.

      2. Without making it to the bottom, maybe. But falling? Yeah, we’ve been falling.

        24 years ago I didn’t have to take my shoes and belt off, and have some dude feeling up my junk, just to take a flight. I didn’t have No Such Agency intercepting all my phone calls.

        We have absolutely been falling. We just haven’t gotten there yet. That we know of; Who knows what the NSA is doing in the way of extortion?

        1. 24 years ago I didn’t have to take my shoes and belt off, and have some dude feeling up my junk, just to take a flight.

          You’re getting Tony excited.

    2. I’m torn.

      I’ve always been WoodChipper Party, but the Nut Sack Drag Stoning Party is persuasive.

  10. Trump has turned national politics into an unending series of petty tabloid feuds.”

    I’d say that it is the tabloid news that is making hay out of nothing. but it is like many feuds of who threw the first insult and it was clearly the media when they called him a NAZI the day he announce his run for president

  11. In 2014 people wanted Brennan and Clapper not only fired but brought up on perjury charges. But now those very same media outlets are praising them like some sort of saints. I was by in large impressed with the media from 2009-2016 in that they stayed consistent with their criticism of the intelligence community. However that all suddenly changed in November of 2016. Her Royal Highness had her coronation derailed. The media then suddenly became intelligence community cheerleaders.

    1. I still want them brought up on perjury charges. For a start.

  12. Go to you County Sheriff’s web site and look at the page that shows registered sex offenders .
    You will see people that look like Brennan ,retired Gen Hayden, and Clapper.
    Is a requirement for being CIA director needing to look like a creepy pervert ?

    1. Well every picture I’ve seen of Brennan looks like he’s being strapped into a straight jacket or should be. But I just know that somewhere there’s a photo of him on his front porch surrounded by adoring grandchildren while cuddling a puppy. That’s the way I’ll always remember him.

  13. A White House spokesperson initially said that Brennan’s clearance was revoked for making “wild outbursts on the internet and television” about the current administration, but Trump himself later indicated that the decision was related to Brennan’s early role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal about Brennan, Trump said, “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham. And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

    The stupid thing is they could have avoided all of that by saying “the decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance has been in the work for some time, and that after a thorough review of his record of lying to Congress and American people, etc, etc, the decision was made to revoke his clearance because the administration does not feel that it will need to consult with him in the future, and there’s no longer any further need to continue his access to classified information now that he is a civilian.” And then also revoke James Clapper’s (assuming he still has his) and ~100 or so other former intelligence officials who have left the government for the civilian world at the same time.

    1. Sure it could have. But Trump didn’t want to avoid it. He wanted this to be a big scene and for his opponents to make a big show of defending one of the most unappealing and unpopular people in the country.

      The media as usual played right into his hands.

  14. Did Suderman/Reason cry foul when Barry did it?

    https://politi.co/2N7Dy5C

    Hasn’t this shit been the rule and not the exception for years? All of a sudden, again and fricken yawn, it’s bad and comes with nefarious motives because Trump.

    Get a new narrative already.

    1. Did you actually read the article you’re commenting on or the article you’re linking? Obama purged the clearance rolls – there’s too many people with security clearances they don’t need, let’s go through and get rid of a bunch of them. Nobody would be objecting to Trump doing the same thing – in fact, a lot of us are saying he should be doing the same thing, even that security clearances should be automatically yanked upon leaving the job – but Trump is very specifically not yanking security clearances on a principled basis, he’s just yanking security clearances of people he doesn’t like. And so far, that’s one person.

      Can you make a defense that Trump’s allowed to do that? Sure, but it’s not an argument a libertarian would be likely to make. Libertarians are supposed to be about principles and the rule of law as it pertains to natural law, not about defending the obviously petty whims of the king who rules by divine right.

      1. No, you’re assuming it’s not a principled basis, even though he gave principled reasons.

        Maybe you don’t believe them, but he gave them.

        1. That’s the announcement, by a disciplined staff. His typical off-the-wall craziness said it was as punishment.
          He’s also threatened Philip Mudd, security analyst and former deputy CIA director.
          Trump is a ruthless demagog who has punished and or threatened nearly 500 individuals who “triggered” his rage.

  15. alt-text: “Trump thinks he’s got the best stankface? I’ll show him a real stankface.”

  16. ” Are you Team Trump? Are you Team Resistance? ”

    I’m Team “Get Team Trump and Team Resistance all in one place then nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.”

    1. “Get Team Trump and Team Resistance all in one place then nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.”

      ^ This.

  17. ” He isn’t really interested in a nuanced debate about security clearance status markers or profiting off of working in government; he just wants to perpetuate the cycle of squabbling, forever forcing people to choose one side or the other. ”

    Pot. Kettle.

  18. Trump is absolutely trying to bully people into silence. That’s what authoritarian leaders do, if they can’t outright have them shot. They do not like transparency of the government or for people to call them out.

    1. WAAAA. Next thing you know Trump is going to have the CIA spy on Congress, tell DOJ to go after hostile reporters and have the IRS go after leftwing grassroots movements.

      That would be terrible wouldn’t it?

    2. Wise Old Fool|8.21.18 @ 3:20PM|#
      “Trump is absolutely trying to bully people into silence.”

      One more asshole with a direct line to Trump’s motives.
      Fuck off; you’re boring.

  19. HUH? WTF?

    “While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware?thanks to the reporting of an open and free press?of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.” The clear intent of the line is to leave the impression that, because of special access, he knows more than he can say.

    Horse shit.
    The CLEAR meaning is that he learned more from investigative journalism than even his “deep insight” as a spymaster. Which SHOULD make sense to any real journalist. CIA agents don’t do THAT type of investigation.

    He was defending a free press … from Trump … Deservedly,

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