Update: As expected, former CIA Director Brennan has taken to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the President’s decision, claiming that Trump’s move “should gravely worry all Americans” as it is “part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics.”
“I will not relent,” he concludes…
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
Brennan immediately ran to his ‘safe space’ at MSNBC and raged hard…“I do believe that Mr. Trump decided to take this action—as he’s done with others—to try to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration,”
“I do believe that Mr. Trump decided to take this action, as he’s done with others, to suppress any criticism of him or his administration … it’s his way of trying to get back at me.”
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 15, 2018
*BRENNAN ON MSNBC SAYS TRUMP BEHAVIOR IS ‘TYRANT’ LIKE
*BRENNAN: TRUMP’S ‘DISHONESTY’ IS NOT SUITABLE FOR AMERICA
*BRENNAN: TRUMP LETTING AMERICA DOWN WITH HIS BEHAVIOR, ACTIONS
*BRENNAN: CRUCIAL THAT MUELLER INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
Additionally, Brennan seemed surprised that he was not informed ahead of his clearance revokation, saying he “was called by a friend and associate when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was giving that statement. So I had no knowledge of it beforehand. No one contacted me. Nobody reached out to me over the past several weeks when this issue had first surfaced.”
And then states that he is “not sure if there is any recourse to take on Trump’s move,” quickly shifting the narrative to claim that this move was to distract from Omerosa.
* * *
Three weeks after we reported that Trump may revoke the security clearance for several former Obama officials over politicized statements, including John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Michael Hayden and Bruce Ohr (Comey and McCabe had already lost their) – on Wednesday White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Donald Trump has decided to revoke former CIA Director Brennan’s Security Clearance.
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) August 15, 2018
Trump accused Brennan of leveraging his former government status to make “unfounded and outrageous” charges about his administration in a statement read by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Wednesday’s press briefing.
“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,” Trump said in the statement read by Sanders.
“More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan’s security clearances raises questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our nation’s sensitive secrets long after their time in government has ended.”
In justifying the revocation, the White House asserted that Brennan – who has been highly critical of President Trump, including on Twitter and as an NBC News and MSNBC analyst – “has history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.”
Trump’s statement stated that “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.”
“Historically, former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insights and as a professional courtesy,” said Sanders, adding “Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan’s continued access to classified information.”
Brennan has been a vocal critic of Trump’s presidency, regularly eviscerating him on Twitter, and Trump previously had floated the idea of taking away his clearance.
“As the head of the executive branch and the commander in chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it,” Trump’s statement said.
Brennan’s “Stripping” took place just one day after the former CIA chief tweeted the following:
It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation.
It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation. https://t.co/eI9HaCec1m
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 14, 2018
Additionally, Trump was reviewing access to classified information for several former intelligence officials — all of whom have criticized Trump publicly or have come under attack from the White House, according to the statement. They include former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Administration Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
As the Hill notes, Past administration officials keep security clearances in part to offer counsel and advice to their predecessors. The idea is to ensure that officials acting in security roles can get up-to-the-minute advice from past officials, who may be uniquely positioned to offer it.
The clearances can also be quite valuable to those who have them, as companies can be keen to higher people with top security clearances. This is particularly true of career officials who move into post-government work, or officials who worked in sub-Cabinet political positions.
The feud between Trump and Brennan goes back a ways, with the former CIA chief regularly winning headlines and attention on cable news for ripping into Trump. Most recently, he described Trump’s remarks alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July as “nothing short of treasonous” and suggesting they exceeded the threshold of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Meanwhile, in calling into question Brennan’s credibility, the White House accused Brennan of falsely denying to Congress in 2014 that CIA officials had improperly accessed congressional staffers’ computer files. Trump also suggested that Brennan lied when he told Congress that the controversial Steele dossier was not used as a basis for the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“More recently, Mr. Brennan told Congress that the intelligence community did not make use of the Steele dossier in an assessment regarding the 2016 election, an assertion contradicted by at least two other senior officials in the intelligence community and all of the facts,” Trump said in the statement.
* * *
Predictably there were immediate comments from both sides of the aisle, with CNN security reporter Jim Sciutto summarizing that there is one thing all those named above share: “they criticized the president.”
Trump is also reviewing the security clearances of former DNI Clapper, former FBI Director @Comey, former Acting AG Yates & others. Together they have decades of intelligence experience. All share one thing: they criticized the president. https://t.co/0IDnHK3wTm
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 15, 2018
When asked in July about Trump’s threats to strip clearances from former officials, Speaker Ryan said “I think he’s trolling people honestly.”
In July, Speaker Ryan said, “I think he’s trolling people, honestly” when asked about Pres. Trump’s threats to revoke security clearances from former officials.
Today the WH announced Trump is revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director Brennan https://t.co/hIT6DR9h6f
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 15, 2018
Glenn Greenwald took a more sarcastic approach:
Is there a GoFundMe campaign yet for John Brennan? Seeing liberals electronically transfer money to a former CIA Director – someone who advocated torture and rendition durng Bush/Cheney and lied about drone killings for Obama – is the final #Resistance frontier.
Is there a GoFundMe campaign yet for John Brennan? Seeing liberals electronically transfer money to a former CIA Director – someone who advocated torture and rendition durng Bush/Cheney and lied about drone killings for Obama – is the final #Resistance frontier. https://t.co/qBHaAMdwe1
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 15, 2018
Over/Under on John Brennan’s GoFundMe campaign at $1MM
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) August 15, 2018