President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he had revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, hitting back at one of his most prominent critics.

“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. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Trump said in a statement read in the White House briefing room by his press secretary Sarah Sanders. “Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries which is to sow division and chaos.”


Brennan is well-regarded by both Republicans an Democrats as a competent national security expert. There is no evidence that Brennan has leveraged classified information or even his access to classified information. However, he has been a public critic of the President since Trump took office in 2016.

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The White House is also evaluating clearances of other former national security officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, former security advisor Susan Rice and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. They all represent prominent critics of the President and have been public targets of Trump in the past. No supporters of the President are named, even not former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Brennan and his supporters said the security review that Trump ordered last month is politically motivated and designed to target freedom of speech. “This has zero to do with national security” and “This is an Official Enemies List,” tweeted Michael Bromwich, attorney for McCabe.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it “a stunning abuse of power” and an attempt to distract from Trump’s many scandals.


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