Clapper: Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance is an 'infringement' on free speech

Clapper: Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance is an 'infringement' on free speech
© Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe MORE said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE's decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller MORE’s security clearance is an infringement of Brennan's First Amendment rights. 

"Will the republic stand or fall on whether John retains his access to classified information? Of course not," Clapper said on CNN shortly after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the announcement

ADVERTISEMENT

"The larger issue here, to me, throughout has been an infringement of First Amendment rights. And I think people ought to think seriously about that," he said.

In addition to revoking Brennan's security clearance, Sanders also announced that the Trump administration is reviewing access to classified information for Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, among others.

"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 said in the statement read by Sanders. 

Many of the officials who were named have frequently criticized the president throughout his time in office. Brennan has been particularly hostile, tweeting on Tuesday that Trump would never understand what it means to be president after he insulted a former White House aide as a "lowlife" and a "dog."

Clapper said on CNN that he has consulted with some senior members of the Trump administration since leaving the government in January 2017. But he added that he does not have any access to current intelligence. 

He would not name the officials he's spoken to since leaving his government position. 

The announcement from Sanders on Wednesday comes almost a month after the administration first announced it was considering taking this step for former intelligence officials. 

Clapper said at the time that it was a "very petty thing to do" and that it represented an "abuse of the system."