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Trump axes security clearance for former CIA director Brennan


Former CIA director John Brennan. Photo: Reuters

Former CIA director John Brennan. Photo: Reuters

Former CIA director John Brennan. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump has revoked former CIA director John Brennan's security clearance, accusing him of "erratic conduct and behaviour".

Mr Brennan was a 25-year veteran of the intelligence agency before leading the CIA under president Barack Obama from 2013-2017 and has been an outspoken critic of Mr Trump.

On Tuesday, Mr Brennan retweeted a Trump tweet attacking his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman and added his own commentary: "It's astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent and honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our nation."

He also criticised Mr Trump on the MSNBC TV network on Tuesday evening, calling him "dangerous to our nation".

Mr Trump, in a statement explaining his reasoning, cited "a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and television about this administration".

"Mr Brennan's lying and recent conduct, characterised by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos," he added.

The statement was dated July 26.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that Mr Trump was retaliating for Mr Brennan's criticism.

"Not at all," she said. "The president has a constitutional responsibility to protect classified information and who has access to it."

Mr Brennan claimed on Twitter after Ms Sanders's announcement that Mr Trump sought to "suppress freedom of speech and punish critics".

"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," he said.

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Mr Trump consulted with Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security A|dviser John Bolton before taking the step, said a person familiar with the matter.

Mr Trump is reviewing clearances for additional Obama-era officials, including former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, fired FBI official Peter Strzok, former department of justice official Lisa Page and current department of justice official Bruce Ohr, Ms Sanders said.

Mr Clapper said on CNN that Mr Trump's action is unprecedented and the White House is "making up the criterion as they go" for withdrawing clearances.

Usually when security clearances are revoked it is by the agencies that issued them, not by the president personally, he said.

Revocations have no "immediate, substantive" impact, he said. The threat of losing his clearance won't stop him from speaking out against the administration, he said.

"If we're saying the only way I can speak is to be in adulation mode of this president, I'm sorry," he added.

Democrats were quick to denounce Mr Trump's decision to revoke the security clearance of Mr Brennan.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said Mr Trump's move is a "stunning abuse of power".

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, warned that a "dangerous precedent" is being set. Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, said: "Leaders behave like this in dictatorships, not democracies."

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