Trump Revokes Ex-C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s Safety Clearance
WASHINGTON &mdash President Trump revoked the security clearance of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director below President Barack Obama, on Wednesday in a striking act of retaliation against an outspoken critic. The president threatened to do the same to other former national safety officials who have antagonized him.
Citing what he called Mr. Brennan&rsquos &ldquoerratic&rdquo behavior and &ldquoincreasingly frenzied commentary,&rdquo Mr. Trump dispatched Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his press secretary, to read a statement saying that Mr. Brennan had abused his access to the United States&rsquo secrets &ldquoto make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations.&rdquo
The statement came only a handful of weeks soon after Ms. Sanders warned that Mr. Trump was contemplating revoking the clearances of Mr. Brennan and other folks who he believed had politicized and inappropriately profited from their access to delicate information. It was the most recent assault by a president who has routinely questioned the loyalties of national safety officials and dismissed some of their findings &mdash particularly the conclusion that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election &mdash as attacks against him.
Step by step, from the moment 10 days into his administration that he fired the acting lawyer common, Sally Q. Yates, Mr. Trump has overseen the removal of top national safety officials who have defied him or worked at senior levels of the Russia investigation. They contain James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director and Peter Strzok, the former F.B.I. counterintelligence agent who helped oversee the Hillary Clinton e mail inquiry and the Russia investigation and disparaged Mr. Trump in a series of inflammatory texts.
Mr. Trump&rsquos action against Mr. Brennan appeared to be the initial time that a president has ever issued or revoked a clearance outdoors of the established method, according to Bradley P. Moss, a lawyer who has written on the concern.
In an interview later Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump argued that his list of potential targets for getting safety clearances revoked was not confined to his political opponents, saying that he &ldquowould put a Republican on, too, if I thought they had been incompetent or crazy.&rdquo
The revocation of Mr. Brennan&rsquos safety clearance also appeared to be a way to modify the topic from damaging accusations in a tell-all book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former reality Tv show star who worked in the White House and now claims that Mr. Trump used a slur to disparage African-Americans and is in a state of mental decline.
Mr. Trump&rsquos selection drew a swift response from Mr. Brennan. &ldquoThis action is component of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,&rdquo Mr. Brennan wrote on Twitter, adding that he would not relent. &ldquoIt should gravely worry all Americans, like intelligence pros, about the cost of speaking out.&rdquo
The White House statement on Mr. Brennan was dated July 26, 3 days soon after Ms. Sanders first announced that Mr. Trump was contemplating revoking his critics&rsquo clearances. The date recommended that the selection had been produced weeks ago, despite the fact that the White House would not explain the delay in revealing it.
Mr. Trump&rsquos choice to comply with by means of in punishing Mr. Brennan came only a day right after his campaign brought an arbitration case against Ms. Manigault Newman to enforce a nondisclosure agreement that she signed in 2016.
Mr. Brennan has turn out to be increasingly vocal in his criticism of the president and typically tweets or seems on tv as a contributor on NBC to query Mr. Trump&rsquos fitness for workplace. Final month, Mr. Brennan mentioned the president must be impeached for &ldquotreasonous&rdquo behavior soon after Mr. Trump stood subsequent to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a news conference in Finland and cast doubt on the conclusion of the intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
On Tuesday, the story of Mr. Trump&rsquos reality star aide turned accuser intersected with that of his frequent public antagonist when Mr. Brennan chastised the president in a tweet for calling Ms. Manigault Newman &ldquothat dog.&rdquo
Mr. Brennan wrote: &ldquoIt&rsquos astounding how frequently you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will in no way realize what it implies to be president, nor what it takes to be a great, decent, & sincere particular person. So disheartening, so hazardous for our Nation.&rdquo
Ms. Sanders mentioned the president was also contemplating yanking the security clearances of other former officials and 1 existing Justice Department official, all of whom have angered the president. The group includes Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the National Safety Agency who was made C.I.A. director beneath George W. Bush Susan Rice, a national security adviser beneath Mr. Obama James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence beneath Mr. Obama and Ms. Yates.
Other folks who no longer have a clearance might lose the potential to have it reinstated, the president warned. Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe, neither of whom presently have a safety clearance, are component of the list.
The only current official on Mr. Trump&rsquos list is Bruce Ohr, a lawyer in the Justice Division&rsquos criminal division. The president has criticized Mr. Ohr on Twitter simply because of Mr. Ohr&rsquos friendship with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who compiled a salacious dossier containing damaging information about the president.
Mr. Ohr&rsquos wife, Nellie &mdash Mr. Trump singled her out as &ldquobeautiful&rdquo in a tweet more than the weekend &mdash worked until September 2016 as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the analysis firm that commissioned the dossier.
Clearances are generally revoked for result in, since of a safety concern like alcoholism, financial problems, well being concerns or the mishandling of classified material.
&ldquoThis is supposed to be an impartial and objective assessment of safety issues,&rdquo mentioned Mr. Moss, the lawyer. &ldquoThis is the president taking a step that he most most likely had the legal authority to take, but that no other president has ever thought it appropriate or justified to do on his own.&rdquo
The normal procedure for revoking a safety clearance is initiated by the sponsoring agency &mdash which in this case would have been the C.I.A. &mdash and involves memos outlining why a clearance is becoming withdrawn and, in some instances, an chance for the current or former official to supply a defense or rebuttal. The appeals procedure can be avoided if the head of an agency orders the revocation.
The C.I.A. did not commence a proceeding against Mr. Brennan or take action to get rid of his clearance, according to officials familiar with the process. The spy agency referred all concerns to the White Property.
Mr. Hayden, in an interview with CNN, stated the president had &ldquoabsolute authority&rdquo to oversee safety clearances, but that by revoking Mr. Brennan&rsquos for political factors, Mr. Trump had degraded &ldquothe dignity of the office&rdquo of the president and suggested he wanted to stress his critics into silence.
In an e-mail, Mr. Hayden said that losing his clearance would have &ldquoa marginal effect on the perform I do,&rdquo noting, for instance, that he would have to resign from the proxy board of an American subsidiary of an Irish business to ensure that its work respects the classification rules of the United States.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who very first raised the prospect of stripping Mr. Brennan of his clearance in a meeting last month with Mr. Trump at the White Residence, applauded the president&rsquos action on Wednesday.
&ldquoHe participated in a shredding of constitutional rights, lied to Congress and has been monetizing and generating partisan political use of his clearance given that his departure,&rdquo Mr. Paul stated in a statement.
But Democrats said Mr. Trump&rsquos move against Mr. Brennan was harmful, likening it to President Richard M. Nixon&rsquos drawing up of a list of political opponents against whom he would use the government to extract revenge.
&ldquoAn enemies list is ugly, undemocratic and un-American,&rdquo Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter. &ldquoI also think this action to silence a critic is unlawful.&rdquo
Published at Thu, 16 Aug 2018 02:30:37 +0000