CIA Director John Brennan warns Donald Trump to watch his tongue

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Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan has warned Donald Trump to watch what he says as he looks to assume the US presidency.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Mr Brennan advised Mr Trump to be mindful of his off-the-cuff remarks, saying that "talking and tweeting" was not an option for Mr Trump, who takes office on Friday.

"Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests and so therefore when he speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States could be profound," Brennan said, alluding to the president-elect prolific Twitter reactions.

"It's more than just about Mr Trump. It's about the United States of America."

He also warned Mr Trump to not to absolve Russia for its recent actions.

Mr Brennan warned Mr Trump to to not to absolve Russia for its recent actions. Source: Getty.
Mr Brennan warned Mr Trump to to not to absolve Russia for its recent actions. Source: Getty.

"I think Mr Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions that it's taken in the past number of years is a road that he, I think, needs to be very, very careful about moving down," he said.

For months, Mr Trump has spoken out against US intelligence conclusions and Brennan also questioned the message it sends to the world.

The CIA director's remarks come a week after the president-elect escalated a fight with US spy agencies, just days before he takes over their command as president, accusing them of practices reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Mr Brennan took Mr Trump to task for his comments against the intelligence services. Source: Getty.
Mr Brennan took Mr Trump to task for his comments against the intelligence services. Source: Getty.

The Republican said leaks from the intelligence community led to some US media outlets reporting unsubstantiated claims that he was caught in a compromising position in Russia.

"I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace, and I say that ... that's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do," Mr Trump told a news conference in New York.

Mr Brennan took Mr Trump to task for his comments against the intelligence services.

"What I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany," he said, referring to the tweet by Mr Trump last week.

"There is no basis for Mr Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly."

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The president-elect's comments about spy agencies such as the CIA likely intensified tensions between the intelligence community and the president-elect, who initially disparaged its conclusion that a Russian hacking campaign was aimed at boosting his candidacy against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump, who takes office on January 20, called a dossier that makes salacious claims about him in Russia "fake news" and "phony stuff".

Two US officials said the allegations about Mr Trump, which one called "unsubstantiated," were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that was presented last week to Mr Trump and to President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump said, without offering evidence, that the news he had been briefed on the memo "was released by maybe the (US) intelligence agencies. Who knows? But maybe the intelligence agencies which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that."

CNN reported about the existence of the memo. BuzzFeed published a fuller 35-page document produced by Christopher Steele, a former British foreign intelligence official, that outlined the allegations of compromising behaviour by Mr Trump and alleged links between the businessman and people in Russia.

Christopher Steele is said to be a long-time spy and the document's composer.
Christopher Steele is said to be a long-time spy and the document's composer.

The claims were included in opposition research reports that were made available last year to Democrats and US officials.

One US official said investigators had so far been unable to confirm material about Mr Trump's financial and personal entanglements with Russian businessmen and others whom US intelligence analysts have concluded are Russian intelligence officers or working on behalf of Russian intelligence.

Daniel Benjamin, who served in senior White House and State Department counter-terrorism posts under Democratic presidents, told Reuters the brewing tensions between Mr Trump and US intel was "a recipe for disaster".

He said it would lead to low morale there was a "strong chance" people would leave and they have "tremendous value" to the private sector.


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