The Slatest

Trump Revokes Former CIA Chief John Brennan’s Security Clearance, Puts Other Political Nemeses on Review List

Former CIA Director John Brennan leaves Capitol Hill after testifying at an open session of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on May 23, 2017.
Former CIA Director John Brennan leaves Capitol Hill after testifying at an open session of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on May 23, 2017. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has revoked the security clearance of former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the White House press briefing Wednesday. Reading a statement from the president himself, Sanders said that Brennan’s “frenzied commentary” and “erratic conduct and behavior” were reasons why Trump removed his clearance. She also offered that security clearances were being reviewed for several other critics of the president.

When asked if Trump’s revocation of Brennan’s clearance was politically motivated and a punishment for his frequent speaking out against Trump, Sanders said “the president has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information and who has access to it,” and that “this action is only specific to Mr. Brennan, the others are currently under view.”

Brennan described Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”

Sanders also could not identify any specific times Brennan has improperly disclosed or profited from classified information. When Sanders had first floated removing clearances, she said the officials had “politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances.”

As noted, Sanders said that other former national security officials—all of whom are either Democrats or served under President Obama—are having their clearances reviewed. The other officials are former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. When asked if Trump would fire or ask the DOJ to fire Ohr, who currently works there, Sanders said she had no personnel announcements to make.

According to early reporting, the decision seems to have been made unilaterally by the White House.