President Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance for John Brennan, the former director of the CIA during the term of Barack Obama,
The action comes in the wake of Brennan's criticism of the commander in chief, saying recently Trump's news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was "treasonous."
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The announcement came via a prepared statement read by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump's statement began, “As the head of the executive branch and commander in chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today in fulfilling that responsibility, I’ve decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
"Historically, former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insights and as a professional courtesy," the statement continued.
"Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan's continued access to classified information."
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In response to Trump, Brennan tweeted, "This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans .. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent."
A number of other current and former officials are also having their clearances reviewed, including fired FBI director James Comey and former DNI James Clapper.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had been among those pushing the president to cancel Brennan's clearance.
"Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump," Paul had tweeted.
Brennan now gets paid as an analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
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The senator earlier raised questions about Brennan's security clearance
At the time, Paul said, "If he has top-secret clearance as unhinged as he is now, he's calling the president treasonous, saying he is for the death penalty of the president, this is alarming."
Previously, former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova told the Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity Brennan is responsible for the sharing of false information about Trump and Russia with American intelligence agencies.
Hannity said he thinks Brennan knew all about the Democrat-funded "dossier" of unproven claims about Trump that was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign and helped prompt the special counsel investigation.
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"I look at a guy like Brennan, it happened on his watch, I think he probably knew all about the dossier. His involvement in this is going to be very interesting," Hannity said. "Do we really want to live in a country where the Senate leader on the Democratic side says you better not ever say anything bad about the Intel community?"
DiGenova responded: "Sean, I want to talk about two people. We only have so much time — John Brennan and Leon Panetta. John Brennan is a traitor and I will tell you why. He is the real traitor. What he did and what he has had recently about the president of the United States is despicable."
The former U.S. attorney said Brennan "is personally responsible for the leaking of unmasked information, he was responsible for the sharing of false information to U.S. intelligence sources to get FISA warrants."
"He is personally responsible for the sharing of false information with American intelligence agencies, and he – I challenge him to a debate at the National Press Club for one hour, two hours, three hours about his role in the entire pre-election."
Someone went into the Wikipedia site for Brennan and labeled him, shortly after his criticism of Trump, a "silly old fart."
It was after Brennan tweeted: "Donald Trump's press conference in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???"
In a news conference after his meeting with Trump, Putin denied Russia interfered in the election, and Trump deflected a question from a reporter asking whether he believed Putin or the assessment of U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the 2016 campaign.
Trump emphasized there was "no collusion," saying he didn't even know Putin at the time of the 2016 election.
Asked which side is responsible for the poor relations, Trump said, "I hold both countries responsible."
Brennan: Trump Cabinet should resign
Brennan also went on MSNBC to charge treason, urging Trump's Cabinet to resign.
"I was just totally shocked at the performance of Donald Trump in Helsinki at a press conference with Vladimir Putin," he told Brian Williams. "I just found that it was outrageous. And even when the press — and thank goodness the press asked the right questions — even when the press gave him an opportunity to hold Russia accountable for anything, he chose to talk about Hillary Clinton, about his election, about servers.
"He criticized American citizens, Secretary Clinton and others as opposed to really taking advantage of a world stage, with all the world's eyes upon them, to point out how unacceptable Russia's behavior and interference in our election and the elections of other democratic countries around the globe is. But he just shirked those responsibilities."
Brennan said he could not understand "how the national security team can continue to abide by this" and how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Chief of Staff John Kelly "can continue in their jobs."
"This, I think, rises to the point of good American patriots resigning in objection to that performance by Donald Trump," he said.
Scott Johnson at the Powerline blog charged Brennan with having "animus nakedly on display."
"He is demented by hatred," Johnson wrote. "Is this really the public role a former director of the CIA is to be playing?"
Not the first rant
Russia expert Paul Kengor earlier wrote in a commentary that Brennan, responding to FBI probes of corruption and other problems, also had "uncorked an epic Twitter rant against Trump."
Brennan wrote at the time: "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. ... America will triumph over you."
Kengor highlighted Brennan's shockingly radical background, noting the Obama CIA director voted for Communist Party candidate Gus Hall for president of the United States.
For those too young to remember, Gus Hall was the longtime hack and head of Communist Party USA, beginning in 1959 until his death in 2000. Not even Joe Stalin as a party general secretary came close to matching Gus Hall's interminable tenure. Hall was unwaveringly dedicated to a global communist revolution and a truly Evil Empire that was ultimately and blessedly consigned to "the dustbin of history."
Kengor noted claims that Brennan converted to Islam, but whether or not that's true, Brennan has "made very positive statements about Islam and the 'privilege' of making pilgrimage to Mecca and paying homage to 'the majesty of the Hajj.'"
"In fact, if one studies Brennan's admission that he voted for Gus Hall, it looks like he also suggested that he might have been a member of the Communist Party in 1980. Yes, a formal member," Kengor wrote.
He said one might "lend more credibility to Brennan's crowing about Donald Trump if he had better judgment about presidents of the United States."
Brennan once came under investigation for perjury because he had, under oath before the House Intelligence Committee, testified that the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” funded by the Democratic Party played no role in the intelligence community’s publicly released conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Brennan further declared he did not know who commissioned the opposition-research document, even though senior national security and counter-intelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year it was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., subsequently suggested that charges against Brennan might be appropriate.
Nunes released a memo Feb. 2 summarizing former deputy director Andrew McCabe’s testimony that the unverified dossier was essential to obtaining warrants in October 2016 to spy on a Trump campaign official. Nunes further found that in four separate applications for a warrant, FBI and Justice officials hid the fact that it was funded by the Democratic Party.
Reporter Paul Sperry at the time quoted an aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stating: "John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier. He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump."
Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino said Brennan's testimony that he didn’t know who commissioned the dossier isn't plausible because "the CIA has a central role in the verification of foreign assets and information we get from foreign assets."
And after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., accused the CIA of spying on members of the Senate by hacking into computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers, Brennan said, "Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate."
However, a CIA inspector general’s report found the CIA was spying on the Senate, and Brennan was forced to privately apologize to intelligence committee chairmen.
Brennan also claimed in a 2011 speech that there had not been “a single collateral death” from U.S. drone strikes because of their “exceptional proficiency [and] precision.'” However, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that one U.S. drone strike alone had killed 42 Pakistanis, “most of them civilians.”
In April 2017, citing an article in the Guardian of London, the American Spectator’s George Neumayr found confirmation that Brennan was “the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump.”
“One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election – Hillary’s,” he wrote. “Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy.
“He used their phone intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people."
WND Founder and CEO Joseph Farah wrote in a recent column about Brennan and included a three-minute video of a speech he gave in 2010 about the beauty of Islam.
Brennan describes in one part how he traveled through Indonesia, and felt the "tremendous warmth of Islamic cultures and societies."
"I came to see Islam not how it is often misrepresented but for what it is; how it is practiced every day by well over a billion Muslims worldwide. A faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity."
Follow Joe Kovacs on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews