Donald Trump stripped former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance last week, and now the Obama appointee is threatening to take legal action.
Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that multiple lawyers have reached out to him about the president using his executive authority to revoke his clearance. The CIA director-turned-MSNBC security analyst said he’s considering pressing for an injunction to stop Trump from moving forward with revoking his clearance as well as the clearances of nine other former government officials connected to the Russia probe and/or critical of the president.
“If my clearances and my reputation as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me it’s a small price to pay,” Brennan said, the Associated Press reports. “So I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. And if it means going to court, I will do that.”
On Wednesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump was revoking Brenna’s clearance, citing his “erratic conduct and behavior” and “wild outbursts.” The administration also accused Brennan of “leveraging” his clearance to make false claims against the Trump administration. The former CIA director’s “series of unfounded and outrageous allegations,” the White House says, have been made with the apparent goal of “sow[ing] division and chaos.” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that “something had to be done” to stop Brennan and company from continuing to fuel the “rigged witch hunt.”
Brennan’s potential abuse of his security clearance hasn’t just been questioned by Trump; as The Daily Wire noted, others, including Sen. Rand Paul, have openly questioned how Brennan is using his access to information. “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,” Sen. Paul tweeted in late July.
In its coverage of Brennan’s legal threat, AP notes that Trump has the authority to revoke security clearances. Currently, he is required to handle revocations according to an executive order signed by President Clinton in 1995, but Trump could also issue a new executive order if he wants to alter the revocation and appeal process. “Former Obama-era CIA Director Leon Panetta, who also served as defense secretary, said Sunday that Trump must abide by the executive order unless he decides to change or cancel it,” AP notes.
More than 75 intelligence officials have denounced Trump for his threats to revoke the clearances, while pundits and politicians are invoking “McCarthyism” and Nixon’s “enemies list” to condemn the president’s handling of those “sowing division and chaos.”