White House strips John Brennan of security clearance, others on chopping block

President Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance from former director of the CIA, John Brennan, citing Brennan’s role in the investigation of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Although in practice former government officials retain security clearance for the purpose of consulting with successors, it is not unprecedented for a former government employees to lose security clearance.

In a statement to reporters explaining Trump’s decision to remove Brennan’s security clearance, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“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.

Sanders admitted the White House was reviewing the security clearance of several other Obama officials, including:  James Comey, former director of the FBI; James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence; Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency; and Susan Rice, former national security adviser.

Also under consideration for revocation are Lisa Page, a former attorney with the FBI; Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general; Peter Strzok, former FBI counterintelligence official; Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI; and Bruce Ohr, a former associate deputy attorney general.

Strzok and McCabe have since been dismissed from their posts at the FBI.  Ms. Yates was dismissed by the White House in January 2017 for refusing to carry out Executive Order 13769, which established a moratorium for travelers from seven nations to the U.S.

Since leaving government in January 2017, Brennan has been a frequent and harsh critic of President Trump.  During appearances on network and cable television news programs and during appearances in public policy forums, Brennan has engaged in an unending series of vitriolic attacks on Trump, stating the current president has “badly sullied” the Oval Office.

In later public appearances, Brennan has questioned Trump’s fitness for office, accused Mr. Trump of willfully disregarding facts, referred to Trump’s behavior as  abnormal and aberrant, and has compared Trump to despots and autocrats.

Following the first summit between Trump and Vladimir Putin in July, Brennan described Mr. Trump’s post-meeting remarks in a joint appearance with the Russian president as “treason” after Trump initially failed to support conclusions drawn by U.S. intelligence services the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Hours after the White House announced Brennan had been stripped of his security clearance, Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, tied the decision to the Russia probe, declaring:

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

Following a phone interview with MSNBC blasting Trump for the decision as an attempt “to silence” criticism and an “abuse of power,” in a response in The New York Times appearing in the Thursday August 16 edition, Brennan penned an opinion piece accusing Trump of colluding with Russian officials.

 

[Politico] [Washington Times] [Photo courtesy SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images via MSNBC]