Veteran investigative journalist Michael Isikoff got into a shouting match with MSNBC host Ali Velshi and The Atlantic‘s Natasha Bertrand Friday evening when the pair wouldn’t allow him to make his point about why pundits are missing the forest for the trees when it comes to John Brennan’s clearance revocation.
“In the beginning, this looked like something petty and vindictive,” the host said of Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the former CIA director’s security clearance. “It has since taken on a sinister feel to it. The president has basically said it was about a Russia investigation.”
Isikoff, whose book Russian Roulette documents Russia’s electoral interference efforts in 2016, didn’t seem convinced.
“The John Brennan revocation — I think some of this is a little overwrought,” the journalist said. “The idea that it’s stifling free speech is absurd. John Brennan is going on this network within an hour and is going to speak freely about what he has to say about the president.”
Isikoff then appeared to suggest a disconnect between Brennan’s tweets calling Trump a “demagogue” who engaged in collusion with Russia fly in the face of the former CIA director’s testimony before Congress where he claimed he was unaware of any actual evidence of collusion.
“There are a lot of questions that people that people have within the intelligence community about a lot of what John Brennan has been saying,” the journalist said.
Velshi noted that Brennan never abused his security clearance to make any of his statements, to which Isikoff agreed — but the host pressed on, bringing up that there are 13 reasons for the revocation of security clearances that the former intelligence chief did not meet.
“That’s a weird argument,” the host said — and when Isikoff countered him, he repeated his name over and over in an attempt to quiet him.
“I don’t disagree with that at all,” Isikoff said, referencing the host’s comment about the 13 reasons for revocation. “But John Brennan is not going to suffer because his security clearance is revoked.”
Velshi interjected again, saying “is the nation going to suffer because of this.” Bertrand too tried to jump in, but the veteran journalist raised his voice until they both relented.
“Can I make my point please?” Isikoff said before bringing up the president’s threats to revoke the clearance of little-known Justice Department official Bruce Ohr over the Russia investigation.
“When you talk about basically eliminating anybody’s due process and revoking by presidential edict, somebody who is still in office, and still serving the government,” the journalist said, “that is much more serious.”
Watch below, via MSNBC:
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