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Trump revokes ex-CIA director John Brennan's security clearance

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has revoked ...

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 12:43 PM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 12:43 PM

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has revoked former CIA director John Brennan's security clearance, marking an unprecedented use of a president's authority over the classification system to strike back at one of his prominent critics.

"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 have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency," Trump said in a statement dictated in the White House briefing room by his press secretary Sarah Sanders. "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."

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John Brennan

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Michael Hayden

Brennan is the first former national security official to see his security clearance revoked since the White House announced last month that Trump was considering taking that action against several of his most vocal critics in the national security world.

"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," Brennan tweeted after the announcement.

The decision comes as the White House is looking to turn the page on a news cycle that for several days has been dominated by startling allegations leveled against Trump by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former senior White House official and longtime Trump adviser.

The White House provided no evidence that Brennan has misused his security clearance since leaving government.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the top Trump-appointed intelligence official, was not consulted on revoking Brennan's clearance, an official with knowledge of the matter told CNN's Jim Sciutto.

While Brennan has been a vocal critic of the President since Trump took office -- calling him unfit to serve -- he is well-regarded by both Republicans and Democrats as a seasoned national security expert.

Before serving as homeland security adviser and later CIA Director under President Barack Obama, Brennan served as the inaugural director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President George W. Bush. Prior to that, Brennan served for more than two decades as a career CIA official.

Trump said in a statement Wednesday he is still considering revoking the security clearances of several others: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA director and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official.

The names amount to an unofficial enemies list for this White House. All of those individuals have been the target of Trump's public ire or criticized Trump -- or both.

Despite that, Sanders insisted on Wednesday that Trump's decision to revoke Brennan's clearance and put other critics on notice is not politically motivated.

"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," Sanders said.

She declined to say why the list included no supporters of the President, such as Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Trump's statement was dated July 26 -- three days after the White House first said the President was considering the move -- in an initial version released by the White House. A White House aide blamed the date on a cut and paste error.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Trump said he had wanted to announce the decision last week but his schedule was too "hectic." The President spent most of the last week on a working vacation at his property in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump answered critics who say his only targets are people who served in Democratic administrations, telling the Journal he would fire a Republican too, "if I thought they were incompetent or crazy."

Trump in his statement justified the move against Brennan by citing the CIA's infiltration of Senate computers during Brennan's time at the helm of the agency during the Obama administration -- for which Brennan subsequently issued a public apology -- and maintained Brennan has "recently leveraged his status" as a former official to "make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations" about the administration, which Trump called "increasingly frenzied commentary."

"Such access is particularly inappropriate when such officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks," Sanders said, reading from Trump's statement.

There is no evidence that Brennan has leveraged classified information or even his access to classified information to bolster his criticism of Trump.

Top national security officials typically retain their security clearances after leaving government as a professional courtesy and so they can be brought in by current officials to consult on national security issues.

"Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan's continued access to classified information," Trump said in his statement Wednesday.

Officials at risk of seeing their security clearances revoked expressed concern about Trump using his presidential authority to strike back at critics but said revoking their security clearances would have little impact on them.

Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said he has not accessed classified information since leaving his position in January 2017.

"Will the republic stand or fall on whether John (Brennan) retains his access to classified information? Of course not. The larger issue here, to me, throughout has been infringement on First Amendment rights and I think people ought to think seriously about that," Clapper said on CNN.

Hayden, the former CIA and National Security Agency chief, said losing his clearance would "have a marginal impact on the work I do."

"With regard to the implied threat today that I could lose my clearance, that will have no impact on what I think, say or write," Hayden said.

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Hayden warned that the revocation amounts to a threat from the administration.

"The White House just messaged the entire American intelligence community: If you stand up and say things that upset the President or with which he disagrees, he will punish you," Hayden said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

"That is a horrible message to be sending to folks who are there to tell you objective truth," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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