AUG 15, 2018: US President Donald Trump has pulled the security clearance of one of his harshest critics, former CIA Director John Brennan.
The White House revoked Brennan’s security clearance on Wednesday, questioning his “insights.”
Brennan stepped down as CIA director in January 2017.
“Historically, former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insights and as a professional courtesy,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a Wednesday briefing. “Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan’s continued access to classified information.”
Sanders announced the decision by reading a statement from Mr Trump.
In response, Mr Brennan tweeted that the move was part of President Trump’s broader effort to “suppress freedom of speech and punish critics”.
“It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.
“My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”
The move has widely been deemed as political, considering the pressure on the Trump administration from several fronts.
Sanders added that the former spy chief has shown “erratic conduct and behavior” and “has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility,” therefore; the action was meant to protect “classified information.”
“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,” she said.
Mr Brennan earlier said Mr Trump’s performance at a briefing after July’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki had been “nothing short of treasonous”.
And last year, Mr Brennan said an investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia during the US presidential elections in 2016 had been “well-founded”.
Trump has repeatedly denied the claim, calling it “witch hunt”.
The statement added that Mr Trump was also reviewing access to classified information for former FBI chief James Comey, whom he fired last year, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
The decision by the president was apparently taken without consulting his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.
And the move has brought criticism.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said the president was behaving like the ruler of a banana republic. Others have said Mr Trump is trying to shut up critics.
James Comey called the president “morally unfit” to lead. His memoir, A Higher Loyalty, likened Mr Trump to a mob boss.
James Clapper said the Watergate scandal “pales in comparison” to the Russia collusion inquiry dogging the Trump presidency.
In a naked jab at the Trump administration, Michael Hayden tweeted a photo in June of a Nazi death camp with the caption: “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”
Brennan called Trump treasonous over his meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki; he’s called him imbecilic; and a danger to the US.