Former CIA director explains why Trump’s ability to ‘create distractions’ is 'right out of the authoritarian’s playbook'

Former CIA director explains why Trump’s ability to ‘create distractions’ is 'right out of the authoritarian’s playbook'
President Donald J. Trump welcomes President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin as he arrives to attend their bilateral meeting during the G20 Japan Summit Friday, June 28, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

When former CIA Director John O. Brennan appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” on Monday night, July 6, host Lawrence O’Donnell asked him some very provocative questions: does Brennan see any similarity between the “propaganda style” of the Trump White House and some of the “authoritarian regimes” he has “studied around the world” — and does the Trump White House try to create “distractions” in a manner typical of such regimes? Brennan, without hesitation, responded that the parallels are impossible to miss.


“I have seen, observed this type of behavior in authoritarian leaders around the world for many, many years,” the 64-year-old Brennan told O’Donnell. “This is taken right out of the authoritarian’s playbook, which is that you try to create a distraction from the challenges and problems that you face on the domestic front. And sometimes, you point to other domestic issues, or you point to external enemies. And I think Donald Trump has had a history now — over the last three and half years — of being, unfortunately, masterful as far as trying to distract attention from the issues and the problems, many of which he has created or made worse.”

Brennan added, “Donald Trump is not only unable to address these issues, but just focuses on what he can do — what other new, shiny object he can throw in front of his base and the American public as a way to distract from those issues that really are challenging our safety, our security, and these days, our health.”

During the interview, O’Donnell also brought up allegations within the United States’ intelligence community that Russian government officials offered a bounty to Islamist Taliban fighters in Afghanistan if they would kill U.S. troops. And Brennan told the MSNBC host, “This intelligence appears to be very credible. That’s why it’s incumbent upon the White House, the National Security Council, the national security adviser to do everything possible to mitigate the threat to our troops.”

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