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Trump revokes security clearance for former CIA director John Brennan

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 15 August 2018 15:55 BST
(AP (AP)

President Donald Trump is revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, a former top intelligence official during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The revocation was announced by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a White House briefing on Wednesday, saying that Mr Brennan had shown "erratic conduct and behaviour" and accusing him of "lying" and "wild outbursts".

Mr Brennan has been a vocal critic of Mr Trump and his conduct as president, and had been a prominent critic of the president's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. Mr Brennan said then that Mr Trump's apparent suggestion that he trusted Mr Putin more than American intelligence services was "nothing short of treasonous".

Ms Huckabee Sanders said that several other former intelligence officials' security clearances are also "currently under review".

"Historically, former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insights and as a professional courtesy," Ms Huckabee Sanders said during the White House briefing, reading from a statement she said was prepared by the president. "Neither of these justifications supports Mr Brennan's continued access to classified information".

"As the head of the executive branch and commander-in-chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation's classified information, including by controlling access to it," the statement says. "Today in fulfilling that responsibility, I've decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency".

The statement also indicated that security clearances of several other former intelligence and national security officials were also being reviewed.They include former FBI director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former director of national security Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, current Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr, as well as former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

The revocation of the security clearance is an unusual — if not unprecedented — move for a presidential administration, and was quickly met with criticism from observers who questioned the motives behind the revocation, and whether it had to do with Mr Brennan's frequent criticism of Mr Trump and his administration.

Ms Huckabee Sanders, for her part, denied that the security change was motivated by politics or by Mr Brennan's criticism of the administration.

Mr Trump has made his distaste for Mr Brennan clear previously, having previously called him a "disgrace" who has "disgraced the entire Intelligence Community" in a tweet.

Notably excluded from the list of individuals who may soon have their security clearances pulled is Mr Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign within weeks of the president's inauguration after it was determined that he misled the administration about contacts he had with Russian officials during the presidential transition process.

Ms Huckabee Sanders said that the security clearance revocation was not an attempt to silence crtiics of the administration, but was not immediately able to respond when asked why Mr Flynn was not on the list.

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