Bright and early Tuesday morning — actually so early it was still dark — President Trump picked up his phone to address another report he says is more “fake news.”
On Monday, The New Yorker published a piece based on unnamed sources claiming that White House officials had discussed revoking former President Obama’s security clearance back in 2017, but national security adviser H.R. McMaster blasted the idea and, ultimately, “Trump decided not to exclude Obama.” Here’s the passage:
At the time, some of Trump’s most fervent supporters in the White House saw former Obama Administration officials as powerful enemies who threatened the new President’s rule, and they agitated for punishing them by revoking their security clearances. The idea was rebuffed by the national-security adviser at the time, H. R. McMaster, who signed a memo extending the clearances of his predecessors at the N.S.C., Republicans and Democrats alike. As Trump stepped up his public and private attacks on Obama, some of the new President’s advisers thought that he should take the extraordinary step of denying Obama himself access to intelligence briefings that were made available to all of his living predecessors. Trump was told about the importance of keeping former Presidents, who frequently met with foreign leaders, informed. In the end, Trump decided not to exclude Obama, at the urging of McMaster.
On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to slam the report. “Fake News, of which there is soooo much (this time the very tired New Yorker) falsely reported that I was going to take the extraordinary step of denying Intelligence Briefings to President Obama,” he wrote. “Never discussed or thought of!”
All the security clearance talk stems from Trump’s decision to revoke the clearance of former Obama CIA Director John Brennan after he became an MSNBC analyst and began repeatedly making “collusion” allegations against Trump and his administration.
After the White House announced the revocation of his clearance last week — citing his “erratic conduct and behavior” and accusing him of “leveraging” his clearance to make false claims against the administration — Brennan wrote an op-ed for the New York Times laying out his collusion accusations.
“Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash,” wrote Brennan. “The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of ‘Trump Incorporated’ attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.”
In a response released to the press, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Republican Sen. Richard Burr, pointed out that Brennan’s accusations have some problems.
“Director Brennan’s recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power,” said Burr. “If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017? If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach. If he has some other personal knowledge of or evidence of collusion, it should be disclosed to the Special Counsel, not The New York Times.”