Sen. Rand Paul unleashed a torrent of criticism on former CIA Director John Brennan for his comments on President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, has been Trump’s most vocal defender this week amid waves of negative press and hot-takes from media pundits, former Obama administration officials, celebrities, and more.
Brennan, who Trump later described as a “very bad guy,” wrote in a tweet that Trump’s press conference was “nothing short of treasonous.”
It prompted Paul to respond to the former CIA director, noting that he voted for a Communist Party USA candidate Gus Hall in 1976—four years before he became a CIA employee. Brennan’s treason accusation “is coming from the guy who voted for the Communist Party USA candidate in 1976. Give me a break,” Paul wrote.
This is coming from the guy who voted for the Communist Party USA candidate in 1976. Give me a break https://t.co/0l8X8wiNWA
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 16, 2018
On Wednesday morning, Paul doubled down on his assertion in an interview with Fox News.
“John Brennan started out his adulthood by voting for the communist party presidential candidate,” Paul said.
“He is now ending his career by showing himself to be the most biased, bigoted, over the top, hyperbolic, sort of unhinged director of the CIA we have ever had. And really it is an insult to our government to have a former head of the CIA calling the president treasonous just because he doesn’t like him,” the junior Kentucky senator added.
.@RandPaul: "John Brennan started out his adulthood by voting for the Communist Party presidential candidate. He's now ending his career by showing himself to be the most biased, bigoted, over-the-top, hyperbolic sort of unhinged director of the CIA we've ever had." pic.twitter.com/XhUXxgWGmv
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 18, 2018
Paul said Brennan and Former United States Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who also criticized Trump, “are known for wanting to expand the authority of the intelligence agencies to grab up everyone’s information, including Americans.”
“So I don’t have a lot of respect for these people even before they decided to go on hating the president. I dislike these people because they wanted to grab up so much power and use it against the American people,” Paul continued.
Trump praised Paul on Twitter for his defense this week.
Thank you @RandPaul. “The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed to think?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2018
The ex-intelligence chiefs and others criticized Trump for appearing to dismiss the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
“Brennan’s a very bad guy,” Trump told Fox’s Tucker Carlson this week, “and if you look at it, a lot of things happened under his watch. I think he’s a very bad person.”
Trump continued, “You know, Russia and the United States control 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world and getting along with Russia—and not only for that reason—it’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Brennan hasn’t yet responded to Paul, but according to a CNN article in September 2016, Brennan “froze” when the CIA was about to administer a polygraph test regarding top security clearance. The question was, according to CNN, “Have you ever worked with or for a group that was dedicated to overthrowing the US?”
“This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate,” he said.