President Donald Trump has stripped former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance, blocking a harsh critic’s continued access to classified information granted to certain former government employees.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from Trump to reporters during the daily briefing Wednesday. The statement, citing Brennan’s “unfounded and outrageous allegations,” made clear that other government officials also may lose security clearances.
Others whose clearances apparently are being reviewed include recently fired FBI official Peter Strzok, ousted FBI Director James Comey, and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
Sanders, reading the president’s statement, said:
Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official … to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations and wild outbursts on the internet and television about this administration.
Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s mostly closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.
Brennan fired out a response on Twitter, vowing, “I will not relent.”
This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent. https://t.co/TNzOxhP9ux
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 15, 2018
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey. As the greatest Nation history has known, we have the opportunity to emerge from this nightmare stronger & more committed to ensuring a better life for all Americans, including those you have so tragically deceived. https://t.co/eC6LATH2Gd
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) April 13, 2018
Sanders said the CIA’s Office of Inspector General contradicted Brennan’s testimony to Congress that the CIA never had accessed information from members of Congress.
She noted that at least two senior intelligence officials affirmed that Brennan was wrong when he told Congress that the intelligence community did not use the so-called Steele dossier of unverified, salacious information about Trump.
Reading Trump’s statement, she said:
More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance raises questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our most sensitive secrets long after their time in government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks.
Sanders announced last month that Trump was considering revoking some security clearances. The announcement Wednesday came shortly after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., urged the president to pull Brennan’s security clearance.
Sanders said the administration is reviewing the possibility of revoking the security clearances of other high-level officials appointed by former President Barack Obama, as well as one named by former President George W. Bush.
Besides Clapper, Comey, and Strzok, they include:
- Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general, who Trump fired as acting attorney general in the early weeks of his administration.
- Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s national security adviser and as U.N. ambassador.
- Andrew McCabe, recently fired as deputy FBI director.
- Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with Strzok during the 2016 campaign, when they were having an extramarital affair.
- Bruce Ohr, a top Justice Department official who was demoted after revelations that he pushed the investigation of Trump. Ohr’s wife was employed by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which at the time was doing work for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
- Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the CIA under Bush, who has criticized the Trump administration’s detainment of the children of illegal immigrants.
Comey and McCabe have said they no longer have security clearances.
“Security clearances for those who have them may be revoked,” Sanders said. “Those who have already lost their security clearance may not be able to have it reinstated.”
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