Former CIA Director John Brennan was defiant Friday night in response to President Donald Trump’s revocation of his security clearance, and to Trump’s threatening to revoke the clearances of several other former intelligence and national security officials who’ve become harsh critics of his.
“I think this is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense, as well as national security,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I think that’s why there’s been such an outcry from many intelligence professionals.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that Brennan’s clearance had been revoked, tellingly accusing him of making “outrageous allegations” about the administration. Trump later told the Wall Street Journal that the revocation was the result of Brennan’s involvement in the Russia probe.
“A number of lawyers have reached out to say that there is a very strong case here, not so much to reclaim [my clearance] but to prevent this from happening in the future,” Brennan told Maddow, asked if he was considering legal action against the administration.
Some groups, including the ACLU, have alleged that revoking Brennan’s clearance in retaliation for his criticism of Trump, as the White House said was the case, was a violation of the former CIA director’s First Amendment rights. Trump appeared to respond to the MSNBC interview the next morning, now citing new reasons for the revocation.
Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA Director? He will go down as easily the WORST in history & since getting out, he has become nothing less than a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
Brennan repeated his accusation that Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir was “nothing short of treasonous.”
And he said a Washington Post report that his clearance revocation had been timed “to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a critical book released by fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman” was “just another demonstration of [Trump’s] irresponsibility.”
“The fact that he’s using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy, I think, is just so reflective of somebody who, quite frankly — I don’t want to use this term, maybe — but he’s drunk on power.”
Brennan wondered: “What else is he going to do in order to distract attention?”
He ultimately charged congressional Republicans with reining in the President.
“So, again, how desperate is he going to get?” Brennan asked. “And do the Republicans really want to have to clean up after a disaster or do they want to stop this before it becomes disastrous? It’s their choice. And if things become disastrous, it’s going to be on their shoulders, on their conscience.”
Watch the full interview below, or read a transcript here.