President Donald Trump’s revocation of the security clearance for former CIA Director John Brennan is “unprecedented” — and suggests an infringement on First Amendment rights more than a protection of classified information, onetime Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday.
In remarks to CNN, Clapper said “it seems they’re kind of making up criteria as they go . . . on a very individual basis.”
“It’s unprecedented,” he said. “I don’t know of a case where this has ever been done in the past. Access to clearances normally would be done completely by a sponsoring agency. So, in John’s case, the sponsoring agency is CIA.
“And normally, if there were going to be an action taken like this, it would be done at that level, and not by the White House or not by the president himself.”
In the announcement revoking Brennan’s clearance, the president also said he is reviewing access to classified information for several former intelligence officials.
That list also includes: former FBI Director James Comey; former National Security Administration Director Michael Hayden; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former National Security Adviser Susan Rice; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; former FBI agent Peter Strzok; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
Clapper told CNN he has not had access to classified data since he left the White House in January 2017.
“So will the republic stand or fall on whether John [Brennan] retains his access to classified information, or mine or any others that were named? Of course not,” Clapper said.
“The larger issue here, to me, throughout has been an infringement on First Amendment rights . . . infringement of our right to speak, and apparently the appropriateness of being critical of this president, of which in one degree or another, all of us have been.”
Clapper said, “I think people ought to think seriously about that.”
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