Others Face Loss of Security Clearance 08/16 06:12
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday acted on a threat and
revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, citing a
constitutional responsibility to protect classified information. Brennan, who
served in the Obama administration, had retained his security clearance, as is
custom, but had also become an increasingly sharp critic of Trump's.
Trump says he is reviewing security clearances for nine other individuals:
James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew
McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr. Some have been publicly critical
of the president, while others are linked to special counsel Robert Mueller's
investigation into Russian election interference.
Trump calls the investigation a "witch hunt."
A look at the 10 individuals:
In a written statement, Trump cited "erratic conduct and behavior" by
President Barack Obama's CIA director as justification for revoking Brennan's
security clearance. Trump also accused Brennan of "lying" and "wild outbursts."
At a news conference last month in Finland, Trump stood alongside Russian
President Vladimir Putin and openly questioned U.S. intelligence agencies'
conclusions that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 election in his favor.
Afterward, Brennan criticized Trump's performance as "nothing short of
treasonous" and accused him of being "wholly in the pocket of Putin."
On Wednesday, Brennan tweeted a response to Trump's decision to revoke his
security clearance: "This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to
suppress freedom of speech & 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."
Clapper served Obama as director of national intelligence and has held key
positions in the U.S. intelligence community. He has been critical of Trump and
told CNN on Wednesday that he has no plans to stop speaking out when he's asked
for his views on the Trump administration.
"If they're saying that the only way I can speak is to be in an adulation
mode of this president, I'm sorry. I don't think I can sign up to that,"
Trump fired Comey from his post as FBI director in May 2017 over the
bureau's Russia investigation. Comey had also announced in July 2016 that the
FBI would not recommend charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton for her email practices as Obama's secretary of state. Trump believes
the investigation was handled unfairly because of what he alleges is political
bias against him at the FBI. Comey does not have a security clearance; Trump
said Comey may not be able to have it reinstated.
On Wednesday, Comey tweeted a statement that said, in part: "Once again this
president is sending a message that he will punish people who disagree with him
and reward those who praise him. In a democracy, security clearances should not
be used as pawns in a petty political game to distract voters from even bigger
The veteran U.S. intelligence official is a former director of the National
Security Agency, principal deputy director of national intelligence and a past
CIA director. He's also been critical of the president. Hayden said last month
when the White House first issued the security clearance threat that losing it
wouldn't affect what he says or writes.
He published a book this year called "The Assault on Intelligence: American
National Security in an Age of Lies."
Trump fired Yates early in 2017 after she refused to enforce the new
president's ban on travel to the U.S. by residents of several mostly Muslim
countries. Yates served in the Obama administration and had agreed to stay in
the job under Trump. She also had informed the White House that Michael Flynn,
Trump's first national security adviser, was potentially compromised because of
his contacts with Russian officials. Trump allowed Flynn to keep his security
clearance after Yates' disclosure but later fired Flynn, citing misstatements
he said Flynn made to Vice President Mike Pence.
Referring to Trump's summit with Putin, Yates tweeted, "Our President today
not only chose a tyrant over his own Intel community, he chose Russia's
interests over the country he is sworn to protect." Last December she tweeted,
"The FBI is in "tatters"? No. The only thing in tatters is the President's
respect for the rule of law."
Rice was national security adviser during Obama's second term and has
criticized Trump policies. She wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in July,
saying the U.S. had "so much to lose and so little to gain" from the
Trump-Putin summit --- "given this very atypical US President," she added in a
McCabe is a former FBI deputy director who led the investigation into
Clinton's email practices. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe this
year after FBI disciplinary officials and the Justice Department concluded he
hadn't been candid during an inspector general investigation. Trump has alleged
bias in the email investigation because McCabe's wife, Jill, ran as a Democrat
for the Virginia state Senate in 2015 and accepted a campaign contribution from
a longtime Clinton ally. But McCabe didn't become involved in the Clinton probe
until after his wife's bid for elected office.
The longtime FBI agent was recently fired from the bureau, his lawyer said
this week. Strzok had worked on the Mueller investigation but was removed after
anti-Trump text messages that Strzok exchanged with an FBI lawyer became
public. Trump has used the text messages to buttress his claims that the FBI is
biased against him.
Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement Wednesday that security
clearances shouldn't be taken away as a means of "punishing people who have
criticized the President, or coercing others into silence." He said by
stripping Brennan's clearance and threatening others with the same fate, "the
President has taken us down one more step on the path toward authoritarianism."
Page is the former FBI lawyer who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with
Strzok. Trump has begun referring to Page as the "lovely Lisa Page" in his
tweets about the Russia investigation.
The Justice Department official has come under Republican scrutiny for his
contacts with Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS. The opposition research
firm hired former British spy Christopher Steele during the 2016 U.S.
presidential campaign to compile a dossier of information on Trump and his ties
to Russia. Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS during the campaign --- a
fact Trump has tweeted about in recent days to highlight his assertions of
political bias as motivation for the Russia investigation.