Real Time with Bill Maher (August 24, 2018) – Transcript

Bill’s guests tonight:

John Brennan, Ex-CIA Director
David Corn, “Russian Roulette” Author
Kara Swisher, Recode Editor-At-Large
Rick Wilson, “Everything Trump Touches Dies” Author
Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Worker Advocate

* * *

Monologue: Orange Tuesday

Bill recaps the top stories of the week, including more bad news for the Trump crime family.

Bill: You can stop clapping, I have no money for you. I know why you’re happy today, I’m happy for the same reason, because the courts, the courts of law, where real shit happens, have finally confirmed what a lot of us have been thinking for a long time: I’m not crazy, the president is an actual treasonous crook. And that’s kind of a big thing. we’ve heard of Black Friday; this week we had orange Tuesday.

They are rolling up the members of the Trump crime family. Manafort: guilty; Cohen: pled guilty, currently singing; Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization: singing; we heard Don McGahn, the white House Counsel is singing; even Trump’s old friend, who buried all his shit in the National Enquirer, David Pecker: even Pecker is not standing firm. I love this David Pecker guy. Apparently there is so much dirt on Donald Trump David Pecker kept a safe in a fucking vault at the National Enquirer with all his shit in it. And somebody figured out the combination to the safe: it’s the first four numbers of Trumps weight.

But these convictions this week– this isn’t even the main course, which is Russia, this was just the Stormy Daniels appetizer. The campaign manager guilty, the personal attorney guilty, the deputy campaign manager guilty. The National Security Adviser cabinet meetings are now are going to be held on a visiting day.

I say all of Trumps lickspittle apologists on TV they’re like “oh, now just being friends with Donald Trump makes you a criminal.” Apparently! Yes, apparently that is the case! By the way, one sign you might be a crook, your lawyer is going to jail. That’s a little hint.

Michael Cohen, Trump boy– did he turn on Michael Cohen? Trump tweeted out “if anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I strongly suggest don’t retain the services of… the guy I picked as my lawyer for the last 12 years!”

Besides Manafort and Cohen and Flynn and Gates–all these people going to jail–the two Republican Congressmen who were the first two to endorse Trump, Chris Collins, Duncan Hunter, they’re going to jail. So many Republicans going to jail, who’s gonna be left to lockup Hillary. If they lock up any more white Republicans the white NFL players are gonna start taking the knee.

So so now we are in the time where Trump has to start distracting–speaking of white. He’s deeply concerned this week, suddenly, about the plight of Africans, specifically the white ones. [Imitating Trump] “I have asked Secretary of State Pompeo to study the situation in South Africa. With farm seizures and large-scale killing…” This is this bullshit idea that the blacks in Africa are killing the white farmers. A conspiracy theory propagated by white supremacists–and when I say white supremacists I mean Fox News. This is something he saw on Tucker Carlson– and by the way, I always go by the rule if you want to know what’s going on in Africa, ask a guy named Tucker.

I swear to God, Trump is like a drug dog for white victimization. He can smell it out anywhere. If Trump travelled to the deepest reaches of space, he would say “why aren’t there any white holes?”

So that’s distraction number one. Distraction number two was always the hostage situation. He said in an interview today, if they tried to impeach him, “the stock market would crash and everybody would be poor!” Yes, just what every stupid boyfriend says, “if you break up with me, you’re gonna regret it.” You’re probably right Donald, we’re making a huge mistake. We’re gonna regret it for the rest of our life, heart emoji, crying emoji, delete contact in phone.

And of course, on the distractions front, when all else fails, the go to, the bottom bitch of excuses, go to town on Jeff Sessions. Every unfair thing that ever happened to Donald Trump is because Jeff Sessions would not recuse himself. But Jeff Sessions fired back, finally. He said “while I am attorney general, justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Finally answering the old-age question: do elves have balls.

* * *

Former CIA Director John Brennan joins Bill to discuss Donald Trump’s attacks on the intelligence community and the president’s failure to hold Russia accountable for interfering in US elections.

Bill: He is a distinguished scholar at Fordham and the University of Texas and was President Obama’s CIA director who, you may have heard, recently lost his security clearance, a true American patriot, John Brennan [Applause]
John, great to meet you. Thank you. I don’t usually say it’s an honor to have somebody on my show but it is an honor to meet you and have you here. And I wanted people to know, we had this booking a long time ago. This isn’t just because of the events of recent weeks. You were scheduled to come here and I thank you for honoring it.
Some people on the right have accused you of wanting to monetize–that’s their argument against you. You’re not here to monetize anything, are you John?

Brennan: No, I am not. I didn’t ask to keep my security clearances, former directors don’t do that. We keep those clearances because sometimes those in government want to be able to avail themselves of our experiences, our expertise, our knowledge about certain issues. People serve on Commissions, sometimes they serve on private sector boards, whatever, but this is the first time in 38 years that I haven’t had a security clearance and the basis for the relocation is bogus. Mr. Trump and his administration didn’t adhere even to the process that they reaffirmed last year and the politicalization of security clearances either granting of the revocation is a real threat to national security. Which is why so many people came out and opposed his action. And so I certainly hope…

Bill: So many people came out for you. Admiral McRaven said “please revoke my security clearance it would be an honor, considering what you did to Brennan.” So everybody with the brain is on your side. It’s interesting, Jared and Ivanka still have clearances, you, one of the guys who was the architect of getting Bin Laden, does not.

Brennan: Well, it seems as though Rand Paul was the one who put this idea in Donald Trump’s head and…

Bill: Yes, dead to me Rand Paul.

Brennan: …Rand Paul has never served on the intel’s committee, he knows [?] of which he speaks, but yet he has this impression that I’m monetizing security clearances, so he continues to spout out on these issues but, again, I believe very strongly in the principle that national security is one of the most sacred and solemn professions in this government and every American citizens deserves to have necessary intel’s professionals who are not going to be political, not gonna be politicized and no president ever should take that capability away from them.

Bill: I’ve been having a hell of a time here on this show trying to get my guests to say the word treason. I think the president is guilty of that and you used terms like that. You said after Helsinki it was nothing short of treasonous, which sounds to me like treasonous. And then I noticed this last week some people tried to get you to take it back and you wouldn’t. And again, I don’t understand why people are so reluctant. I get it’s a scary word, it’s like don’t break this glass case unless you need to– but when it’s time to break the glass case don’t do it just because it’s a glass case.

Brennan: Yes, and I’m not an official at Department of Justice where I’m issuing an indictment to Donald Trump on treason, but there are two principal reasons why I use that term. One is that I think I exhausted all the other adjectives in the English language to describe Donald Trump’s failure to fulfill his responsibilities as president of United States. Number one. Number two is when I saw him on that stage in Helsinki, failing to be able to say to the world and to Vladimir Putin, “Russia tried to interfere in our election, it never should have happened and it never should happen again, and if it does Russia’s gonna pay some very severe consequences as a result”. But he didn’t do that. And so treasonous is defined as a betrayal of trust, as well as aiding and abetting the enemy. And so that was the word that came to my mind. Now, I wasn’t expecting Vladimir Putin to say “okay, you caught me,” he’s gonna continue to deny this. But this was an opportunity for Donald Trump to fulfill his responsibilities to say “Russia, cut this out, don’t do it again and if you do it you’re going to pay a cost.” And be able to say to the everybody… [Applause] …and if he said that he could have said “now though, we have to work, United States and Russia, to be able to try to enhance stability and security around the globe. There are important things for the United States and Russia to do. I am very much supportive of trying to get relations between the two countries back on track, critically important, the two largest nuclear superpowers in the world. But we cannot ignore what it is that the Russians try to do. And so when Donald Trump failed to do that I was irate, because I know how hard professionals here in the intelligence community work to try keeping this country strong and safe. And for Donald Trump to be up there and to fail to say that well…

Bill: He takes their side and not ours. That’s a traitor. He calls you a low-life. You, who spent your life defending this country, especially after 9/11, when we had all sorts of problems and it could have gone way worse than it did. He said about General Clapper–is he a general?

Brennan: Yes, he was.

Bill: Yeah, that they got to him. Like you could get to a guy like that. He’s not on our side. You are a traitor if you’re attacking our generals and admirals and people who keep us safe. It’s not that much more complicated than that to me.

Brennan: And I’m proud to stand with Bill McRaven and Jim Clapper and Mike Hayden, the ones who are speaking out. [Applause] I didn’t want to speak out after I left the government. I wanted to be able to retire and spend time with family and– but this is a very abnormal time, this is a very abnormal presidency and the stakes are so high– that’s why I’ve decided to speak out and be outspoken.

Bill: And I can see it’s not easy for you.

Brennan: It’s not.

Bill: I see it. Believe me, I’ve been talking to people on TV for 25 years, I can see when it’s not easy. And people don’t generally go into the CIA for publicity. Take the opposite in that, Donald Trump who confesses everything openly. What do you make of this strategy that seems to be working so beautifully. Like this week, he just said right on the air “I hired Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General totally because I expected his loyalty.” I mean, to me that’s impeachable. The thing he said about–the Lester Holt–he fired Comey. He said it out loud. He said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope we can find Hillary Clinton’s emails.” I feel like if these things were things we hacked, if we found surreptitiously, if we got a hold of his diary, “oh my God look what he said!” we’d be like, we got the smoking gun! But because he says it blatantly and out front, people seem to just…

Brennan: Trying to normalize all this behavior. And he’s also trying to undermine the institutions of government and those individuals who he believes threaten him. And so therefore he’s trying to undermine the intelligence community, the law enforcement community. He’s taken a page out of the playbook of autocrats and authoritarians around the world, who tried to co-opt judiciary’s, who tried to delegitimized the free press, who tried to use and tell the security services to go after their rivals. So Donald Trump is the typical authoritarian who is trying to control power and as he becomes more desperate–and I think that’s what we’re seeing now, because the walls are closing in on him as all the people used to work with him are now cooperating or testifying about what happened [Applause] So I’ve been angry because we have someone in the oval office who has really denigrated the office of the presidency. His dishonesty is unethical, he doesn’t have principles and I am very concerned though–more than angry, I’m worried, because now we are in a crisis and and unfortunately the Republicans–John McCain, a national treasure hero–thoughts and prayers go out to John McCain and his family–I got into some real donnybrook fights with John McCain over policy–I never once questioned his integrity and his interest in doing what is best for this country. But since John McCain has left the hill, the Republican spines have gone with him and there needs to be some reckoning in the Republican Party because we can’t allow this to go on.

Bill: And we have an election coming up and I’m trying to convince people, and it’s hard because a lot of us in the past said “this is a very important election and blah, blah, blah.” This is the one. I think we are in a crisis that is the third great crisis in American history. More than the depression. First, of course, the Revolutionary War, whether we would even become a country. Then the civil war. People usually say then the depression. I don’t think the depression got it what is most fundamental about this country was economic, but I don’t think it threatened the rule of law as we do, as we have now. Would you rank the crisis we’re were in now that way?

Brennan: I would and I think it’s gonna get worse before it gets better, because don’t forget Donald Trump has the authority of the president the United States in his hands, in terms of what he can do domestically here, as well as what he can do internationally. To try to distract attention whether or not he’s going to pursue some type of foreign adventure military or otherwise. But fundamentally though, what he’s doing to this country, he’s dividing us. We, Americans, as you pointed out, Revolutionary War and Civil War, we fought hard for the freedoms and liberties that we have right now. And so he’s dividing Americans and so I’m really concerned that, as he continues to play to his base, he’s further dividing us. And I’m really concerned about whether this could spill over into the streets. And so I don’t know what the principle protagonist in this drama is going to do, but I surely hope that those adults and those people in the White House and in the cabinet and in the Congress are going to recognize that they need to act before there’s a real disaster. And by act I mean whether it’s going up to Donald Trump and saying this has got to stop, you are ruining this country and we’re not going to tolerate it any longer. They cannot turn a blind eye to this, they have to forget about the political affiliation and do the right thing.

Bill: Thank you for everything you’ve done for this country. It means a lot to all of us. John O. Brennan



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