A defiant Gen. Michael Hayden said Wednesday his inclusion on a list of Obama-era officials whose security clearances may be yanked by President Donald Trump “isn’t going to change what I think, say or write.”
In remarks on CNN’s “The Lead,” the former director of the CIA and National Security Agency lashed out at the “implied threat” in the bombshell announcement that ex-CIA chief John Brennan’s clearance would be rescinded — and that Hayden and others were also being considered for the same revocation.
“The way that [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee Sanders rolled this out was almost in a tone to be threatening to the rest of us,” he charged.
“It looks to me like an attempt to make us change the things we are saying when we’re asked questions on CNN or other networks. … for those of us who appear routinely on air it’s not going to have that effect.”
“I certainly try to be respectful for the both office and the person of the president,” Hayden continued. “But you have to tell the truth and if something’s not right or not true, you have to point that out. And that implied threat isn’t going to change what I think, say or write.”
He added: “It’s almost as if they wanted us to at least implicitly sign a no disparagement agreement.”
Hayden conceded that Brennan has been “very harsh in his language and even John knows … it’s been at the personal level against the president.”
“But that’s just reflecting the deep feelings that John has about the issue and one expects the president to be the president at all times,” he said.
Trump “has absolute authority on this,” Hayden added.
“And so you can’t appeal his right to make this decision. I just think… it’s bad for him. Not just for other folks involved,” explaining: “The dignity of the office… derives a lot of its power from the dignity of the office that is maintained, and the restraint that is exercised by the occupant of the office, even though he’s the most powerful man on Earth.
“And I think we saw both of those elements degraded today with regard to dignity and restraint.”
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