- President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani taunted former CIA Director John Brennan on Monday.
- He said he and Jay Sekulow, another of Trump’s lawyers, would battle Brennan in court if he filed a lawsuit over Trump stripping him of his security clearance.
- Giuliani told Business Insider that he would be representing Trump personally – not the US government at large.
- Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics who is often critical of the president and his administration, said the claim that Giuliani and Sekulow would represent Trump personally in such a lawsuit is “likely hogwash.”
On Monday, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani prompted strong reaction on Twitter when he taunted former CIA Director John Brennan as “a blowhard” and said he would battle Brennan in court if he filed a lawsuit over Trump stripping him of his security clearance.
“To John Brennan: Today President Trump granted our request (Jay Sekulow and me) to handle your case,” Giuliani tweeted, referring to another of Trump’s lawyers. “Come on John you’re not a blowhard?”
Some confusion followed the tweet. Would Giuliani and Sekulow be opposite Brennan in a civil case or an internal appeal of the ex-CIA director’s clearance revocation (the proceeding that would typically follow such a dispute)? And would the two lawyers be representing Trump personally or would they be arguing on behalf of the US government?
In a text message to Business Insider, Giuliani said they would be personally representing Trump – and not the US government – in a possible civil suit.
The exchange followed Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance last week in response to his public criticism of the president. The White House also provided a list of additional officials – one currently serving in the Justice Department and other former government officials – who may soon also be stripped of their clearances.
Soon after revoking Brennan’s clearance, however, Trump remarked to The Wall Street Journal that Brennan’s involvement with the wide-ranging Russia investigation influenced his decision.
In a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Brennan said he had been urged to file a lawsuit against the president as a way to stop him from revoking more clearances.
“If my clearances and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay,” he said. “So I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. And if it means going to court, I will, I will do that.”
Trump tweeted Monday that he hoped Brennan would sue, saying he was the “worst CIA Director in our country’s history.” Trump added that such a filing would allow for the revelation of Brennan’s “records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt” through the discovery process.
Discovery is a two-way street, however, and Trump would be opening himself up to the same level of scrutiny in such a lawsuit.
‘It’s cute, but it’s all just so much sound and tiny fury signifying nothing’
In an interview with The New York Times, Giuliani suggested that Brennan had no need for such a clearance because no current officials would “call upon him for advice.”
But Giuliani also said his tweet aimed at Brennan was posted in jest.
“Of course it is,” he said. “I don’t take the threat of the lawsuit seriously, so my statements aren’t serious.”
Responding to a tweet from this reporter clarifying Giuliani’s initial tweet, Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics who is often critical of the president and his administration, said the claim that Giuliani and Sekulow would represent Trump personally in such a lawsuit is “likely hogwash.”
“First, Brennan is unlikely to sue Trump in his personal capacity,” Shaub wrote. “Second, if he does, Trump will have sovereign immunity. Third, DOJ is expert in defending against attempts to breach sovereign immunity, and Trump would be a fool to tell DOJ to stand down in favour of Giuliani.”
He said Giuliani’s tweet was akin to “the yipping of a 5-pound Yorkshire Terrier looking out the window at a bigger dog who is wearing a muzzle and has a body builder holding his leash.”
“It’s cute, but it’s all just so much sound and tiny fury signifying nothing,” he added.
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