Former CIA Chief John Brennan, the day after having his security clearance revoked by President Trump, penning an op-ed in the New York Times, titled, “President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash.” Veuer’s Nick Cardona has the details.
WASHINGTON – Maintaining his attacks on former CIA director John Brennan, President Donald Trump said Friday he is ready to revoke security clearances for other current and past law enforcement officials over the Russia investigation.
Trump’s comments Friday come a day after William McRaven, the admiral who led the 2011 operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, asked Trump to remove his clearance, saying in a column in the Washington Post that “through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
Citing current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr in particular, Trump told reporters at the White House Friday, “I suspect I will be taking it away very quickly;” the president also indicated that the review of security clearances is related to the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts,” Trump said as he departed for a political trip to New York state, although he did not specify the alleged conflicts.
Trump spoke two days after revoking the security clearance for Brennan, one of his most outspoken critics.
Brennan and other members of the intelligence community accused the president of trying to silence them for speaking out on allegations that Trump and associates cooperated with Russia as it sought to influence the 2106 presidential election.
Critics have also accused the president of seeking to obstruct the Russia investigation.
After Trump revoked his security clearance, Brennan tweeted that “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.”
Brennan said Trump targeted him for discussing public evidence indicating that Trump colluded with Russia and has tried to disrupt the investigation, allegations that Trump has vehemently denied.
“I’ve never respected him, I’ve never had a lot of respect,” Trump said of Brennan, who served presidents of both parties while in the CIA.
Trump’s action drew rebukes from across the political spectrum.
More than a dozen former top U.S. intelligence officials, member of both parties, issued a public letter describing the hit on Brennan as an attempt to “stifle free speech” by public servants.
In announcing his action against Brennan, Trump said he is also reviewing the security clearances of a number of officials from the administrations of Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, including former FBI director director James Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper, former CIA director Michael Hayden, and former national security adviser Susan Rice.
Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, led the Defense Intelligence Agency in the George H.W. Bush administration, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency under George W. Bush and Obama. Hayden, also a former three-star general in the Air Force, led the National Security Agency in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations before leading the CIA.
Other former FBI officials involved in the Russia probe are also on the list.
So is a current Justice Department member, Ohr, who has had contacts with a strategic intelligence firm that compiled a dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia.
“I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace,” Trump said.
Ohr, a career employee who has held several jobs, currently works in the criminal division, the Justice Department said.
Former high-ranking law enforcement officials often receive security clearances as a professional courtesy, and most of the people on Trump’s list fall into this category.
Trump probably has the legal authority to withdraw security clearances from current officials like Ohr, but such action could also be contested; the Justice Department may have to fire Ohr if he loses his security clearance, and he could conceivably sue.
“We’ve never had this specific set of facts,” said Brad Moss, an attorney who specializes in national security issues. “No one truly knows what the courts would do.”
Meanwhile, McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, has asked Trump to pull his security clearance in solidarity with Brennan.
In a public letter to Trump published by The Washington Post, McRaven said he would consider it an honor to “add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency … Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
Trump disputed the idea is trying to silence anybody, and argued that he has given Brennan an even bigger platform.
“There’s no silence,” Trump said. “If anything, I’m giving him a bigger voice. Many people don’t even know who he is. Now he has a bigger voice and that’s OK with me, because I like taking on voices like that.”
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