Steve Schmidt: Trump revoking Brennan's clearance shows his 'autocratic fetish'

Steve Schmidt: Trump revoking Brennan's clearance shows his 'autocratic fetish'
© Getty Images

GOP strategist and MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE's decision to revoke former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea Intel agencies' threat assessment matters more than tiff with Trump MORE's security clearance showed the president's "autocratic fetish." 

"It’s an act of retribution," Schmidt said on MSNBC's "Deadline." "It’s an abuse of power by a President who shows his tendency towards his autocratic fetish with increasing frequency."


Schmidt made the remark just a day after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump had stripped the security clearance from Brennan, a former Obama administration official who has been an outspoken critic of Trump.

In addition, Sanders said that the White House was reviewing access to classified information for several other former government officials who have been critical of Trump, including former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Schmidt called the development a "massive abuse of power" and a sign that the Trump administration is actively misusing its authority over security clearances. 

"What we see is a president essentially saying that security clearances are not earned," Schmidt said, pointing to the security clearances that White House aides Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Will there be any last-minute shutdown drama? Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE have gained. "It’s not that they’re bestowed, but it’s a reward for being loyal."

Schmidt also charged that Trump was only making the situation worse for himself with regard to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe into Russian election interference. 

"This is a cornered president who’s lashing out in all directions," he said. "One of the things that we know is that through the course of this investigation each time he has acted petulantly, that he’s lashed out emotionally, he's made the situation worse for himself."

Schmidt made the statement after Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he drew a direct connection between special counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance. Brennan was among the team that first presented evidence of Russian interference to former President Obama.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Trump told the Journal. “And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Schmidt has frequently criticized Trump and the Republican party, saying in June that he would begin voting for Democrats until GOP lawmakers found their independence from Trump.