Published: Thu, August 16, 2018

Trump blacklists critical ex-CIA chief Brennan

Trump blacklists critical ex-CIA chief Brennan

Former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday called President Donald Trump's decision to strip his security clearance "part of a broader effort" to "suppress freedom of speech & punish critics".

Mr Brennan said he learned of the decision only when the White House made an announcement.

Mr Trump said that while former intelligence heads continued to have security access so they could advise their successors, "neither of these justifications supports Mr Brennan's continued access to classified information".

But in justifying this move there's been no suggestion that Mr Brennan either leaked classified material or sought to make money from it.

"I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham", Trump told the paper "And these people led it!"

He went on to suggest he's reviewing the security clearance of other critics - James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr - simply because he's decided that they're bad people.

Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said that...

Security clearance gives access to a range of classified information, as well as to briefings not available to other officials.

One theory popular among Democrats this afternoon for why Brennan's clearance was revoked today is that Trump is trying to "distract" from the Omarosa trainwreck.

While Trump has never been shy about his disdain for the Russian Federation matter, his escalating attacks on that investigation have triggered worries that he may try to shut it down completely.

True to form, Brennan himself responded to Trump in a verbose tweet, stating that "my principles are worth far more than clearances", and vowing to keep up the #resistance.

Clapper noted he has had no access to intelligence information since he left government on the day Trump was inaugurated, succeeding Barack Obama.

In the Journal interview, Trump said he was prepared to yank Brennan's clearance last week but that it was too "hectic". Brennan said the dossier wasn't used to form the Intelligence Community assessment (ICA) on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Given Trump's fondness for NDAs, I wonder if the next step will be to add nondisparagement clauses to all executive-branch security clearance applications.

Asked if Mr. Trump is targeting his political critics by revoking their security clearances, Ms. Sanders replied in the negative.

Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the first Obama administration over concerns about his support, while serving under President George W. Bush, for transferring terror suspects to countries where they might be tortured.

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