WASHINGTON — A day after the former CIA director fired off a tweet criticizing President Trump for calling Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog,” the White House said Trump revoked the security clearance for John Brennan.
Former top intelligence and national security officials retain clearances in case an instance arises in which they’re called to consult with their successors in a classified setting. Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’d encouraged Trump to revoke the clearance of Brennan, who had just tweeted that Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin 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.”
“John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked. Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees,” Paul tweeted after he met with Trump.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time that Trump was “also looking into the clearances” of other critics: FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — though Comey and McCabe no longer have clearances to revoke, per exit procedures at the FBI.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said of the threat, “I think he’s just trolling people.” No more was heard about the administration threat, until after Brennan tweeted Tuesday.
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump had tweeted about Manigault.
Brennan responded, “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.”
Sanders opened today’s press briefing by reading a statement from Trump: “As the head of the executive branch and commander in chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I’ve decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
“At this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” the statement added.
The lengthy statement proceeded to criticize Brennan for “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was reportedly not consulted on the revocation.
Sanders added that in addition to the prior list, Trump would review the security clearances of former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok — who no longer has a clearance after being fired last week — and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who also no longer has clearance. Also on the list is Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who was a contact for former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
The list included another Trump foe: former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. “Today our president called on his (recused) AG to shut down the investigation of his own campaign. As shocking as that is, what’s even more dangerous is that we’ve gotten used to it. The rule of law won’t evaporate overnight, but it can slip away—if we let it,” Yates tweeted Aug. 1.
Sanders said those who no longer have security clearances may be barred from obtaining another one under this administration.
Sanders insisted Trump wasn’t going after political opponents, saying “if there were others that weren’t that we deemed necessary, we would certainly take a look and review those, as well.”
“The president has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information and who has access to it, and that’s what he’s doing, is fulfilling that responsibility in this action. This is actually specific to Mr. Brennan and the others are currently under review,” she added.