Trump vs. American Intelligence Community

President Trump Revokes Former CIA Director’s Security Clearance


Former CIA Director John Brennan’s official portrait, courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

Sean Moriarty, Politics Writer

President Trump has a history of acting against the Intelligence Community, and the revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance is no exception.

Brennan, who served from March 2013 to January 2017, was harshly critical of President Trump after leaving office. Although Press Secretary Sarah Sanders officially announced the revocation of Brennan’s security clearance on August 15th, her statement was dated July 26th, only three days after Trump announced that he was considering stripping six different former national security officials of their clearances.

In an August 17th interview following the revocation, Brennan told a CNN reporter that Trump was “drunk on power … [and] abusing the powers of that office,” while President Trump’s statement cited that he revoked Brennan’s clearance due to his “lying” and “frenzied commentary,” which were “wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets.”

This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics […] My principles are worth far more than clearances.”

— John Brennan

The recent revocation is not the first time President Trump has interfered with or overlooked National Security officials.

On March 16th, Attorney General Sessions fired FBI Director Andrew McCabe after Trump repeatedly attacked McCabe via Twitter. McCabe was accused of “improper media disclosure” and was fired two days before he could have collected his pension.

President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9th, less than two months later. Afterwards, he insulted Comey through a series of tweets.

During the July 16 Helsinki Summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump claimed that he “[didn’t] see any reason why” Russia would interfere with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections, disregarding the opposing thoughts of National Security officials such as Dan Coat, Director of National Intelligence. Trump’s comment drew harsh criticism from across the intelligence community, including former Director Brennan, who labelled it treason.

Following Brennan’s recent security clearance revocations, thirteen top former security officials sided with him, including CIA Directors Gen. Michael Hayden and Gen. David Petraeus, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates.

In a joint letter, the officials called the revocation and the message it sent “deeply regrettable” and praised Brennan as “an enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual.”

Although not the first to be impacted by President Trump’s actions against the intelligence community, Brennan has been the most outspoken about it.

“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” tweeted Brennan shortly after the announcement. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”