Former CIA Officials Oppose Trump's Security Clearance Moves

Recep Erdogan

President Trump said Friday that he plans "very quickly" to strip the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official he said is "a disgrace" who is tied to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Many people don't even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice.

Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for the political consulting firm Fusion GPS. Trump cited "risks" posed by Brennan's alleged "erratic conduct and behaviour" in revoking his security clearance.

Trump discussed his intention to revoke security clearances while speaking to reporters Friday before he left the White House for a fundraiser on Long Island.

A day earlier, McRaven, who retired in 2015, wrote a scathing open letter to Trump published by the Washington Post in which he ripped Trump for lifting the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. McCraven told Trump that as president, he has been an embarrassment and humiliation, and called the revocation of security clearances of his critics an attempt to silence criticism.

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

"I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace", the president said of the career Justice Department official, who conservatives believe was a conduit for anti-Trump information to reach the Federal Bureau of Investigation during and after the campaign, including the Steele dossier containing salacious and unproven allegations about Mr. Trump.

As the CNN panel debated whether the president revoked Brennan's security clearance to silence critics, Lake was eventually asked if there's any validity to the idea that Brennan endangered national security with his anti-Trump commentary.

Trump's actions have been widely condemned, including by respected former admiral William McRaven, the commander of the US Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He said the only question now is whether the collusion that took place "constituted criminally liable conspiracy". Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

Brennan said earlier this week he would "not relent" despite the removal of his clearance.

Many observers noted that going after Brennan and others - specifically because they were involved with the Russian Federation investigation, as Trump told the Wall Street Journal- could be part of a broader obstruction of justice case that special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be pursuing.

Lake said Brennan has a right to criticize the president and the White House acted "petty" by revoking his security clearance.

"I don't think it advances the criminal obstruction case, but I think it's factually relevant", said Mark Zaid, a national security attorney.

Since ex-officials outside of government sometimes use their security clearances in their professional careers, taking away those clearances could amount to a tangible form of retribution.

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