John Brennan responds after Trump revokes his security clearance

  • Former CIA director John Brennan said Wednesday that President Trump's decision to revoke his security clearance was "part of a broader effort ... to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics."

  • In a statement announcing his decision, Trump cited Brennan's "erratic conduct and behavior" and "frenzied commentary" attacking the White House as reasons to revoke his clearance.

  • Trump also said he is considering revoking the security clearances of other law enforcement and intelligence officials, many of whom have been critical of him.

Former CIA director John Brennan hit back at President Donald Trump Wednesday after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump had decided to revoke Brennan's security clearance.

"This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics," Brennan tweeted. "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."

In a statement that Sanders read at the start of the White House press briefing on Wednesday, Trump cited Brennan's "erratic conduct and behavior" as the primary reason for revoking his clearance.

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The president also said Brennan's past actions call into question "his objectivity and credibility."

Among other things, Trump pointed to Brennan's statement to Congress in 2014 when he denied that CIA officials had improperly accessed the computer files of congressional staffers.

"The CIA's inspector general, however, contradicted Mr. Brennan directly, concluding unequivocally that agency officials had indeed" accessed those files, the statement said.

Trump also pointed to Brennan's more recent statement to Congress that the US intelligence community did not make use of the so-called Steele dossier in its January 2017 assessment of Russia's interference in the 2016 US election. That statement has been backed up by several senior former intelligence officials, as well as the former top lawyer for the Director of National Intelligence.

Trump also claimed in his statement that Brennan has "leveraged" his status and access to sensitive information to "make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and television, about this administration."

"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," the statement said.

Shortly after Sanders made the announcement, CNN reported that the White House had not consulted Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, on the decision.

The president also said that he is considering revoking the clearance of several other former intelligence and law enforcement officials — many of whom have been critical of him — in the coming weeks.

Those people include:

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

  • Former FBI director James Comey

  • Former NSA director Michael Hayden

  • Former acting attorney general Sally Yates

  • Former national security adviser Susan Rice

  • Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe

  • Former FBI agent Peter Strzok

  • FBI lawyer Lisa Page

  • Justice Department official Bruce Ohr