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Story highlights

Both Brennan and Clapper praised Robert Mueller

Clapper warned publicly about Russian interference in US affairs

(CNN) —  

Former CIA Director John Brennan says government officials should refuse orders to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if they are told to by the White House.

“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future,” Brennan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum.

Brennan was appearing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and both men, who served in the Obama administration, told Blitzer they have total confidence in Mueller. “Absolutely. It was an inspired choice- they don’t come any better, ” Brennan said. He added that “If Mueller is fired, I hope our elected reps will stand up and say enough is enough.”

Clapper again warned publicly about Russian interference in US affairs. He was asked about the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had with a Russian lawyer and others.

“I’m an old school, Cold War warrior and all that – so I have, there’s truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do. A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long deployed by Russians,” Clapper said. “It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.”

Clapper was asked about then President-elect Trump’s comparison of the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Clapper said he called the President-elect nine days before he left the Obama administration saying he “couldn’t let that reference pass” and it was an insult to him, CIA Director John Brennan and the workforce. “That was a terrible, insulting affront, not just to me or John, we get paid the big bucks, but I’m talking about the rank and file, men and women, patriots and intelligence community – that was completely inappropriate and over the top – I had to do something about it.” Clapper added, “I think the men and woman in the intelligence community will continue to convey truth to power, even if the power doesn’t necessarily listen.”

Clapper joked: “I was kind of hopeful that after he got rid of the two chief Nazis, John and me, then maybe things would’ve improved.”

On the call, Clapper said Trump asked him to “to put out a statement rebutting the contents of the dossier which I couldn’t and wouldn’t do. It was kind of transactional” referring to a dossier that alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Clapper was asked by Blitzer why he didn’t put out a statement replying: “The whole point of the dossier by the way was we felt an obligation to warn him to alert him to the fact it was out there. That was the whole point.”