12 former top intel officials blast Trump’s move to revoke Brennan’s security clearance
Twelve former top U.S. intelligence officials on Thursday condemned President Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, calling it a blatant attempt to stifle Brennan’s criticism.
In a statement of support reported by multiple outlets, a dozen former officials including CIA directors dating back to the 1980s declared that “security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views.”
“Insinuations and allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Brennan while in office are baseless,” the officials said. “We all agree that the president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances.”
“We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case,” they added. “Beyond that, this action is quite clearly a signal to other current and former officials.”
The officials also called Trump’s decision “inappropriate and deeply regrettable,” and urged him not to take similar actions in the future.
Joint statement from William Webster, Hayden, Panetta, Petraeus, Clapper, John McLaughlin, Mike Morell — in total 12 former directors and deputy directors of the CIA and a former DNI — criticizing Trump for revoking Brennan’s clearance. pic.twitter.com/YK60dOOxzW
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 17, 2018
Brennan’s security clearance was revoked Wednesday, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announcing the move during a press briefing. In a statement, Trump cited Brennan’s “lying” and “increasingly frenzied commentary” as reasons for the decision.
“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 and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,” Trump said.
Sanders, however, denied during the briefing that the revocation of Brennan’s security clearance was tied to the former Obama administration official’s frequent criticism of the president and his administration.
Trump later linked Brennan’s punishment to the Russia investigation, which he accused Brennan of starting.
“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham. And these people led it!” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he added.
Brennan told MSNBC that he believed Trump’s decision was related to the president feeling “desperate” over the ongoing special counsel investigation.
“Clearly, I think Mr. Trump is getting more and more concerned, more and more desperate, more and more frightened,” Brennan said.
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