Key GOP senators say they have no issue with Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance

Several high-profile Republican senators told CNN over the past day that they have no issue with President D...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 7:55 AM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 7:55 AM

Several high-profile Republican senators told CNN over the past day that they have no issue with President Donald Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the chamber's second-ranking Republican, said Thursday he doesn't understand why former employees have access to classified information at all.

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He said he hardly believes Brennan was assisting the Trump White House -- a reason given for why some former intelligence community employees can maintain their security clearance -- and that Trump's concern has been individuals monetizing their access to classified information for personal gain.

"Unless there is some justification not to," Cornyn said, suggesting it might be worth having all former employees lose their clearances when they are done being in office.

And he wasn't the only one. Of the public statements made by Republican senators, more sounded supportive of the President than against.

GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado called Brennan's comments on the administration "disgraceful" to the country.

"I think what John Brennan has said about this country over the past several months has been disgraceful," Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told CNN on Thursday.

Asked whether he was troubled by Trump's decision, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott responded, "why should I find it to be troubling?"

"I don't think it's retribution," Scott told CNN. "However, I think it's clear that Brennan has found a way to monetize a part of his national security clearance and I'm not sure how that served our national security."

And Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said it was Trump's "prerogative" to pull security clearances.

The White House on Wednesday originally cited national security concerns for cutting off the clearance, a reasoning that appeared to be undercut by comments Trump later made to the Wall Street Journal where he connected Brennan to the special counsel's Russia investigation.

"I call it the rigged witch hunt, (it) is a sham. And these people led it!" Trump told the Journal in an interview. "So I think it's something that had to be done."

Brennan wrote in a blistering New York Times op-ed that Trump "has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him."

"Which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him," Brennan wrote in the op-ed published Thursday morning.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican responded to Brennan's op-ed in a statement to reporters Thursday.

"Director Brennan's recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power. If Director Brennan's statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn't he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017?" he said in the statement. "If, however, Director Brennan's statement is purely political and based on conjecture, the president has full authority to revoke his security clearance as head of the Executive Branch."

Not all Republicans agreed with Trump's decisions. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Tennessee Republican who's not running for re-election, repeated to CNN on Thursday his comparison that the President's move to strip Brennan's clearance is like a "banana republic."

Corker said Trump's behavior is symptomatic of how the President is "continual tearing down institutions causing Americans to lose faith in institutions instead of building them up -- that's what made our country function the way that it is. ... if you're going to serve in the public arena, you're going to have people rail against you. That's just part of it."

Moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday that while Brennan has been "far too political in his statements," she did not see a need to revoke his clearance.

"I think it's unwise because generally recently retired national security officials have a lot to contribute," Collins said.

Brennan is the first former national security official to have his security clearance revoked after 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.

In a statement read in the White House briefing room by press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday, the President explained his decision by saying, "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."

The former CIA director criticized the news Wednesday on Twitter, calling it "part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics," and saying it "should gravely worry all Americans."

The comments from Cornyn, Gardner and Isakson came the day after other GOP senators -- including John Kennedy of Louisiana -- sided with the President. Kennedy called Brennan "butthead" who doesn't need the clearance.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul had strongly had advocated for the removal of Brennan's clearance in advance of Trump's decision.

"I applaud President Trump for his revoking of John Brennan's security clearance," Paul said in a statement after the White House announcement. "I urged the President to do this. I filibustered Brennan's nomination to head the CIA in 2013, and his behavior in government and out of it demonstrate why he should not be allowed near classified information. He participated in a shredding of constitutional rights, lied to Congress, and has been monetizing and making partisan political use of his clearance since his departure."

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that Brennan brought it upon himself.

"I think Mr. Brennan brought this upon himself by being so outrageous in his comments, making conclusions that I don't think are supported by the evidence," he said. "When you look at CIA policy of how a former director should carry themselves, I think Mr. Brennan stepped well over the line."

Sen. John Thune, a South Dakotan and member of Senate GOP leadership, said he doesn't know everything the administration knows, "but I think there is a reason national security professionals keep those clearances and I think it's probably to provide continuity."

Thune said however they likely had reasons for doing it.

"I do think that the fact that he is out there every day acting in a partisan way probably doesn't help his cause," Thune said.

And Sen. Roy Blunt said he wants to take a "look at this whole security clearance issue."

"When members of Congress leave no matter how long they've been on the intel committee, they have to go through a process to have a reason to have a continued security clearance," he said. "I'm a little surprised that as many people have these clearances as do have and frankly it's created a situation where I want to look at that whole process closer than I have in the past."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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