If looks could kill, the scene that played out Friday night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360o” — the topic was about security clearances for high-level government operatives — would have been an absolute blood bath.
Former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd (shown above left) and pro-Trump pundit Paris Dennard (above right) got into a heated verbal row.
“This is the secret in the swampy Washington, D.C. They have [security clearances], and they keep them because it’s profitable for them after they leave government,” Dennard said, explaining that those with high-level security clearances command more lucrative terms and fees in the private sector.
And that’s when Mudd lost his marbles.
Mudd took grave offense to Dennard’s characterization of the value of security clearances outside government service — and literally tried to shut him down while the two were discussing it.
In a gasp-worthy moment, Mudd gave Dennard 10 seconds to answer his question — clearly a red herring meant to divert viewers’ attention from the topic at hand.
Dennard didn’t take the bait.
An increasingly unhinged Mudd insisted on live TV that he receives no monetary compensation from companies that deal with the U.S. government as a result of any security clearances. He said no money changes hands on this.
“Are we clear?” he added, ranting at Dennard.
When a calm, cool, and collected Dennard did not respond the way Mudd preferred he would have, instead redirecting him to the topic at hand — the value of security clearances in private consulting contracts — Mudd shouted demands at Jim Sciutto, the host of the show on Friday evening.
“We’re done, Jim. We’re done. Get out!”
He then added, “Twenty-five years in the service, and this is the s*** I get.”
“Well, I will be clear in saying that everybody in Washington, D.C., knows. If you don’t want to be honest about it, that’s on you,” said Dennard, calmly and on point. “But if you have a security clearance and you keep it, you get more money to have it.”
He added that he was going nowhere — as it wasn’t Mudd’s show.
Check out this video below, then see the tweets below that:
I stand by every word in this exchange. https://t.co/47EN1vQkfG 
— PARIS (@PARISDENNARD) August 18, 2018 
— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) August 18, 2018 
If my tv was hi-def, pretty sure I'd see steam coming from Phil Mudd's ears on #AC360  right now.
— Stacey (@SheWasHere2) August 18, 2018 
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.