Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Trump doubles down on security clearances; former officials slam move


Brennan has repeatedly clashed with Trump on Twitter and on television, calling Trump's failure to denounce Russian interference in US elections at a recent summit with Vladimir Putin "nothing short of treasonous".

In an interview on MSNBC on Friday night, Brennan did not back down on his criticism of Trump's conduct as president, but he did walk back his comment in July that Trump's behavior in Helsinki was "nothing short of treasonous".

"So I think it's something that had to be done", he said.

Trump has slammed Ohr as a source for Mueller in his probe into Russian election meddling.

He also said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was conflicted but said he was willing to allow the investigation to continue.

Trump said he got a "tremendous response" for his decision to end Brennan's security clearance.

On Friday evening, another group of 60 former intelligence officers released their own letter criticizing the use of security clearance as a political tool. On Friday, former Director of National Intelligence Denny Blair, who briefly served as Obama's first DNI, and former deputy CIA director Porter Goss, signed the letter.

In another development, the former U.S. Navy admiral who led the operation to kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is challenging Trump to revoke his security clearance.

"The defendant lied in order to hide his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the campaign and made his false statements to investigators on 27 January 2017, early in the investigation, when key investigative decisions, including who to interview and when, were being made", Mr Mueller said.

Brennan wrote: "Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him".

Trump has indicated he also was considering revoking security clearances for other critics, including Clapper and Hayden, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James B. Comey, former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and Ohr. "There's no silence. If anything, I'm giving them a bigger voice", he said. According to former acting Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Morell, Gates was out of cell range when the letter was originally released, but he's an "important voice".

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don't know him.

In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered, Hayden said the decision was purely political, and that the White House had revoked Brennan's clearance "as a punitive measure because the president did not like what John was saying about him".

Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS during the campaign - something Trump has tweeted about to highlight his assertions of political bias behind the Russian Federation investigation.

Asked about Ohr's security clearance, Trump said: "I suspect I'll be taking it away very quickly".

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