President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, and threats to remove other officials’ clearances sends a “chilling message,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who could also lose his own privileges, said Thursday.
“It does not have to do with our access to classified information,” Clapper told CNN’s “New Day.”
“The larger implication here is the jeopardy to our First Amendment rights. There is a very chilling message here. If you tee up intelligence that the president did not like you may risk losing your clearance and your job.”
CNN reports that Trump is considering revoking clearances for nine people, including Clapper. Brennan, in a scathing opinion piece for The New York Times, said Trump is trying to “scare” critics like himself into silence, and that the president’s claims that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia are “hogwash.”
“As for collusion, I have learned some things as has John, about that, although from a legal standpoint, I think that is yet to be proven,” said Clapper, but at any rate, pulling clearances won’t affect “what we write or say.”
However, he said he doesn’t know if he’d use the word “hogwash,” like Brennan did, about Trump’s comments on collusion.
“From my perspective, I think from a legal standpoint if there was a conspiracy here or not, that is up to [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s investigation [to find],” said Clapper.
He also admitted he’s found some of what Brennan has said as “harsh,” but commented that they both feel a “duty and an obligation” to determine what had happened.
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