CNN’s excitable counterterrorism analyst got a little hot under the collar when conservative commentator Paris Dennard defended President Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance on Saturday. Phil Mudd, a former CIA official, angrily denounced the move, saying it was the president’s way of telling his brave, patriotic opponents, “You’re a dog and I’ll muzzle you!”
“We spent our career saying that we’re fighting for the right of 330,000,000 Americans to speak, and the president said ‘no’!” Mudd declared heatedly. “All of us will speak until we are dragged away!” he added melodramatically.
Dennard calmly pointed out that nobody’s voices have been silenced because they continue to speak, be contributors on cable news, and tweet.
“The idea that somehow revoking their security clearance is going to silence them is not true,” he said, making the obvious point that “they’re still talking.”
When Dennard noted that former intelligence officials often monetize their clearances, Mudd seemed to take it personally and went completely berserk — in a “doth protest too much” sort of way.
“A lot of these people that have these security clearances — and this is the secret in the swampy Washington, D.C. — they have them, and they keep them because it’s profitable for them after they leave government,” Dennard explained. “Because if you have a security clearance — especially high-level security clearances — your contracts and your consulting gig pay you a lot more money because of the access that you have.” As Dennard said this, the split screen showed Mudd’s fuming, scowling face. Dennard added that Trump should revoke more clearances — including Omarosa’s.
Asked to react, Mudd paused for a moment to gather his thoughts.
“Profitable, Paris?” he started fairly calmly — before going completely apoplectic. “When I am requested to sit on an advisory board — let me ask you one question — how much do you think I’m paid to do that at the request of the U.S. government?!” he fumed. “Give me one answer and you’ve got ten seconds! How much?!”
“I’ll ask you a question,” Dennard responded. “How much are you paid for your consulting contracting gigs?” he asked as Mudd sputtered over him.
“I have no contracts with the U.S. government that pay money — zero!” he exclaimed.
“This is the thing — we’re not talking about the federal government, Phil,” Dennard smiled as Mudd continued to sputter that the U.S. government pays him zero.
“Phil, let’s be honest,” Dennard continued undeterred. “I’m not talking about your role with the federal government. I’m talking about the contracting gigs that you get for being a consultant and a contractor.”
Mudd continued to deny that he has contracts with the federal government even though no one was claiming that.
Pressed further about his contracts in the private sector, he claimed dubiously, “I have zero relationships with the private sector that involve my security clearance! Zero! I get zero dollars from consulting companies that deal with the U.S. government! Are we clear?!”
Dennard responded by nonchalantly pointing out that everyone knows that’s how it works in Washington. D.C. “If you don’t want to be honest about it, that’s on you,” he said.
“We’re done– we’re done!” Mudd fumed. “Get out!!!” he barked.
“It’s not your show! I’m staying right here,” Dennard answered calmly. “Don’t be so defensive about this. Your voice is still here. You can still do whatever you want. But the politicization of the intelligence community under this administration, with the people coming on here every day, tweeting and talking about this administration — you all have made this about politics, not the president.”
This wasn’t the first time Mudd had put on his tough guy act to score points on CNN.
During a memorable CNN segment in May of last year, for instance, he blurted out, “Trey Gowdy oughta have his ass kicked!” after the South Carolina Republican asked former CIA Director Brennan if he’d seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Also in May 2017, Mudd called the president’s travel ban “ass-backwards.”
Perhaps his most famous public meltdown was this January 2018 slur-fest, where he called himself a “proud sh*tholer” and referred to CNN anchor Don Lemon as a n*gger.