04:46 GMT +318 October 2019
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    CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. File photo

    Trump Revokes Security Clearance of ex-CIA Director John Brennan - White House

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    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that US President Donald Trump is revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

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

    "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. Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan's continued access to classified information," the statement continues.

    "First, at this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior. Second, that conduct and behavior has tested and far exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy that may have been due to him."

    Brennan, who left his post as CIA director in January 2017, has maintained heavy criticism of Trump, accusing him of having "paranoia" and being "a charlatan."

    On Tuesday, Brennan fired off again at the president on Twitter, saying Trump "will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent and honest person."

    ​​"Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility," the White House statement continued. "In 2014, for example, he denied to Congress that CIA officials under his supervision had improperly accessed the computer files of congressional staffers. He told the Council on Foreign Relations that the CIA would never do such a thing. The CIA's inspector general, however, contradicted Mr. Brennan directly, concluding unequivocally that agency officials had indeed improperly accessed congressional staffers' files."

    "More recently, Mr. Brennan told Congress the intelligence community did not make use of the so-called 'Steele Dossier' in an assessment regarding the 2016 election — an assertion contradicted by at least two other senior officials in the intelligence community and all of the facts."

    "Additionally, Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and television, about this administration," the statement said. "Mr. Brennan's line and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos."

    "More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan's security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our nation's most sensitive secrets long after their time in government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks."

    "Any access granted to our nation's secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal interests. For this reason, I have also begun to review the more general question of the access to classified information by government officials. As part of this review, I am evaluating action with respect to the following individuals: James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr. Security clearances for those who still have them may be revoked and those who have already lost their security clearance may not be able to have it reinstated."

    "It is for the foregoing reasons that I have exercised my constitutional authority to deny Mr. Brennan access to classified information and I will direct appropriate staff at the National Security Council to make the necessary arrangements with the appropriate agencies to implement this determination."

    The Washington Post's White House Bureau Chief, Phil Rucker, noted Wednesday that the common thread between Brennan and other security officials having their clearances reconsidered is that they are all critics of the president. "Looks like a Trump blacklist," he tweeted.

    Brennan was head of the CIA from March 2013 to January 2017. He spent 25 years with the agency in total. Brennan also served as national security adviser to Barack Obama during Obama's presidential campaign and advised him as president on security and terrorism issues. 

     

    Brennan responded a few hours later, saying Trump's move was intended to punish critics and silence free speech. 

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    director, CIA, security clearance, security, John Brennan, Donald Trump
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