Former CIA Director John Brennan said he doesn’t know whether he actually still has a security clearance or not because no one from the government has contacted him about it.
Nearly two weeks ago, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from President Trump in the White House briefing room, declaring that “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 lengthy statement proceeded to criticize Brennan for “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.”
Sanders added that Trump would review the security clearances of other critics: former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page; the FBI veterans no longer have clearances per Bureau exit procedures. Also on the list is Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official who was a contact for former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
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.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal afterward, Trump called the move against Brennan “something that had to be done” because officials on the list “led” the “rigged witch hunt” Russia investigation. “I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Trump said. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”
Ohr testified behind closed doors today to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees’ joint task force on the Russia probe. His wife, Nellie, works for Fusion GPS, the firm that was first commissioned to investigate Trump on behalf of the Free Beacon and later for the Democratic National Committee. House conservatives claim Ohr was “coordinating” with Steele after he had been dismissed by the FBI as a source.
Brennan told MSNBC today, “It is my understanding that everything Bruce Ohr did was approved and known to senior Department of Justice officials, coordinated close with the FBI. So I think this is something that, you know, will have to be looked at.”
“I don’t know all the facts here. But I think some of the facts that are being purported by some members of Congress may not, in fact, be the actual facts,” he added.
Asked about Trump’s stripping his security clearance, Brennan said that “the only thing I’ve heard about my security clearance from the government is when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the podium that my clearance had been stripped.”
“I’ve not been contacted by anybody at all either before or since then. So whether or not my clearance has been stripped, I’m still uncertain about. But she said it. She read something from Donald Trump,” he said.
Brennan said he “would think that would be the process” to receive official government communication about his status. “But in this current administration, process seems to be thrown out the door because the process for revocation of clearance has very clear guidelines,” the former director said. “And so the Trump administration did not follow the guidelines that they, in fact, affirmed last year, about how to deal with security clearance revocations.”
Asked if the revocation is being walked back, he replied, “I have no idea.”
“Well, given that I think everybody believes that the rationale for something like clearance is bogus, I’m sure there are some people who are scratching their head right now, who maybe have to put together the memorandum to say why I was stripped of my clearances, other than the fact that Mr. Trump might not like me, which is not a valid reason,” Brennan added. “So I’m still waiting to hear. They have my contact information. But I have not yet heard yet.”