President Donald Trump has revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance, accusing him of "erratic conduct and behavior", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The White House announced earlier Wednesday that Trump had revoked Brennan's security clearance in a move widely regarded as retaliatory against the vocal Trump critic. "It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out".
"My principles are worth far more than clearances", he added". I'm taking bets. How much will the inevitable John Brennan GoFundMe raise in ResistanceBucks? "I also believe this action to silence a critic is unlawful". Most of the officials in question are top intelligence officials who also worked under Barack Obama and previous administrations.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that if Brennan's conclusion that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians was based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, "it constitutes an intelligence breach".
"It's unprecedented. I don't know of a case where this has ever been done in the past", former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on CNN.
"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", Trump's statement read.
Brennan railed against Trump Tuesday on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Laurence O'Donnell".
They include Comey; James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence; former CIA Director Michael Hayden; former national security adviser Susan Rice; and Andrew McCabe, who served as Trump's deputy Federal Bureau of Investigation director until he was sacked in March.
James Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director.
"It's detrimental to national security, and what does Brennan gain from this?"
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Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general.
Rice was national security adviser during Obama's second term and has criticized Trump policies. "And the campaign's former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators", he added.
Lisa Page, an Federal Bureau of Investigation lawyer.
Former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies can usually keep access to classified information after leaving office "so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insight and as a professional courtesy", Trump said in an August 15 statement.
At least two of the former officials, Comey and McCabe, do not now have security clearances, and none of the eight receive intelligence briefings. So, for example, I go into Central Intelligence Agency regularly and I help them think through issues, I talk to people, I'm there to assist in any variety of ways.
Comey said in a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday evening that in a democracy "security clearances should not be used as pawns in a petty political game to distract voters from even bigger problems".
The White House has been besieged by a scandal over a former aide's tell-all memoir in recent days and often tries to defuse crises by stoking new controversy.
After Sanders announced Trump's decision on Wednesday, Michael Bromwich, McCabe's lawyer who was formerly a Justice Department inspector general, tweeted that the move "has zero to do with national security". "The offense: exercising 1st Amendment rights".
The signees include six former CIA directors, five former deputy directors and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "These people do not talk classified publicly".