The dangerous precedent Trump sets by revoking John Brennan’s security clearance

The dangerous precedent Trump sets by revoking John Brennan’s security clearance

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JUST WATCHEDBrennan: Trump is trying to get back at me ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH (15 Videos)Brennan: Trump is trying to get back at me Trump: Bruce Ohr is a disgraceTrump: I’ve never respected John BrennanConway comments on security clearance strippingRetired admiral pens stunning rebuke of TrumpTrump: Brennan led the ‘rigged witch hunt’Brennan: Claims of no collusion are hogwashHayden: Trump’s actions personal, vindictiveEx-CIA director’s security clearance revokedClapper: I don’t plan to stop speaking Sanders: Trump may pull ex-CIA directors’ clearancePaul Ryan: I think Trump is trolling peopleTapper calls out Trump’s hypocrisy on clearancesBorger: President wants to silence his criticsClapper: Security clearance review is ‘petty’ (CNN)Here’s the explanation Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch gave when asked why he supported President Donald Trump’s decision to strip former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance: “I’m surprised it took him so long. Brennan has not been a friend of the administration at all.”Hatch is not alone in that view. “John Brennan is a cable news pundit,” Trump White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Friday morning in Washington. “He’s a former CIA director who since then has shown no interest in helping this administration.”Um, what? By this standard, the criteria for stripping a former senior intelligence official of his security credentials is solely how nice and supportive he is to the current administration?That’s not how this works. Not any of it. How do I know? Because there are a set of 13 guidelines by which national security clearances are typically evaluated and revoked. Those factors:Read More1. Allegiance to the United States2. Foreign influence3. Foreign preference4. Sexual behavior5. Personal conduct6. Financial considerations7. Alcohol consumption8. Drug involvement and substance misuse9. Psychological conditions10. Criminal conduct11. Handling protected information12. Outside activities13. Use of information technology(You can read broader explanations of each criteria here.)”Not being a friend to an administration” isn’t listed above.Now, the White House’s official explanation for the revocation of Brennan’s credentials was slightly different than the “friend” argument forwarded by Hatch and Conway. Asked about the decision, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement from the President that said this:Like what you're reading?Check out the latest analysis from The Point with Chris Cillizza:Just how many secret tapes does Omarosa actually have?Rudy Giuliani has taken up arms in the White House war on factsMichael Avenatti is no Donald Trump. Not even close.The definitive ranking of 2020 DemocratsThis week in politics, GIF’d”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. Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the internet and television — about this Administration.”That doesn’t cite any specific criteria for the revocation, although the reference to “recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary” would seem to hint at either “personal conduct” or “psychological conditions.” Of course, Trump himself seemed to undermine the official White House statement on the “why” of Mueller’s security revocation, telling The Wall Street Journal: “I think that whole — I call it the rigged witch hunt — is a sham. And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.” Then, on Friday before leaving for New York and then New Jersey for the weekend, Trump did it again. He blasted Brennan, said he was getting a “tremendous response” to his decision and then began bashing the “rigged witch hunt” again. To be clear: President Trump is within his rights to revoke any security clearance he wants. And he’s likely to do more of it. (Nota bene: Usually these sorts of security revocations go from the specific departments *up* to the President, not from the top down.)But it’s important to remember that we aren’t just talking about Trump’s presidency here. We are talking about setting precedents for how a president can and should interact with his national security apparatus and intelligence community. If you are a Republican who supports Trump, you may be just fine with his decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance. But, would you be equally OK with a Democratic president revoking the security clearance of current CIA Director Gina Haspel if she is critical of decisions the next administration makes or not friendly enough to that administration?And therein lies the rub.
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