President Donald Trump’s revocation of former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan’s security clearance—and his threat to remove the clearances of several current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials—sent shockwaves through the national security community on Wednesday.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was on a list of officials whose statuses were being reviewed by Trump, told CNN that it was “unprecedented” for the White House, as opposed to an agency itself, to pull clearance. CNN has also reported that Clapper’s successor, Dan Coats, was not involved in the decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance. “The larger issue here, to me, throughout has been an infringement of First Amendment rights. And I think people ought to think seriously about that,” Clapper told CNN.
Michael Hayden, who ran the National Security Agency under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and the CIA under Bush, told CNN that he hadn’t gotten a briefing from the CIA in nine years since leaving that job. “With regard to the implied threat today that I could lose my clearance, that will have no impact on what I think, say, or write,” he added.
Former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin described the move as ” ridiculous” on MSNBC and said “I can think of few things the president has done that more directly indicate a kind of authoritarian attitude in his governing style.”
The lawyer for Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI who has been a longtime target of Trump, tweeted a response as well:
CNN reported that the original date on the presidential announcement that Brennan was losing his status was three weeks ago, which will lend credence to suggestions that Trump made the move in a pique of fury, or to distract from a news cycle dominated by former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s tell-all book.