U.S. President Donald Trump says he is considering moving "very quickly" to revoke the security clearance of a Justice Department official who had connections with a firm that produced a controversial dossier on Trump's ties to Russian Federation.
"We all agree that the president's action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances - and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech", the former senior intelligence officials, including former CIA directors, former CIA deputy directors, and a former director of national intelligence, said in a statement released Thursday.
Senior administration officials tell the Washington Post that the White House has drafted documents to revoke the security clearances of current and former officials as Trump's punishment for criticizing him or playing a role in the Russian Federation investigation. "If anything, I'm giving him a bigger voice".
Trump has indicated he also was considering revoking security clearances for other critics, including Clapper and Hayden, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James B. Comey, former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and Ohr.
"Security clearances are very important to me, very, very important. and I've had a tremendous response for having done that", Trump said Friday.
On Thursday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly requesting a "detailed briefing regarding the process used to evaluate Mr. Brennan's suitability to maintain a security clearance ... as well as the processes used in the decision not to suspend or revoke the security clearances of General Michael Flynn, Staff Secretary Robert Porter, and others".
"As part of this review, I'm evaluating action with respect to the following individuals - James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr".More news: Weed-Killing Chemical Linked To Cancer Found In Some Children’s Breakfast Foods
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, announced Friday on Twitter that he planned to introduce an amendment "to block the president from punishing and intimidating his critics by arbitrarily revoking security clearances".
"I don't know McRaven", Trump said.
"I think that whole - I call it the rigged witch hunt - is a sham".
In the statement, the officials call the move "unprecedented" and caution against using security clearances as a political tool. Without citing evidence or offering proof, Trump said that Mueller had conflicts of interest.
He condemned Trump for being "divisive" and said he felt a responsibility to speak out against the president for failing to act presidential. And that's okay with me, because I like taking on voices like that.
Among the signatories on the statement from the leaders are former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and retired Gen. David Petraeus, both of whom also led the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don't know him".