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 ClapperHillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers National security leaders, advocacy groups urge Congress to send election funds to states Trump's actions on China speak louder than Bolton's words MORE said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE's decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanSenate panel scraps confirmation hearing for controversial Pentagon nominee at last minute Brennan memoir slated for October, says Trump blocked him from accessing records Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over 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

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"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."