Former intelligence officials criticize Trump's decision to revoke John Brennan's security cleara…

Fuat Oktay

Fuat Oktay

"We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool", they wrote, adding that Trump's move was an "inappropriate and deeply regrettable" signal to former and current officials who dared to criticize him.

Robert M. Gates - who served as secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush - also signed the letter after it was first released late Thursday.

The signees included seven former CIA directors, five former CIA deputy directors and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Brennan, a frequent Trump critic, called the president's actions an attempt to silence his free speech and tweeted, "My principles are worth far more than clearances".

"You don't have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information", it continues.

"We know John to be an enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual who devoted his adult life to the service of this nation", said tonight's statement, signed by former Central Intelligence Agency directors William Webster, George Tenet, Porter Goss, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, and Hayden, along with Clapper and former deputy Central Intelligence Agency directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Mike Morell, Avirl Haines, and David Cohen. "In many cases, I've given him a bigger voice".

"There are few, if any, who have a more impressive record of service", Hayden said. "Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security and not political views".

Brennan has repeatedly clashed with Trump on Twitter and on television, calling Trump's failure to denounce Russian interference in USA elections at a recent summit with Vladimir Putin "nothing short of treasonous".




Patrick Cotter, a former assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of NY and a longtime white-collar defense attorney, said that while a prosecutor could argue that Trump's targeting of clearances was intended as a warning that "if you contribute to, participate in, support the Russian Federation probe and I find out about it, I'm going to punish you", it is likely not obstruction in itself.

Ohr works in the Justice Department's criminal division.

"I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace, with his wife, Nellie".

"I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace", the president said of the career Justice Department official, who conservatives believe was a conduit for anti-Trump information to reach the Federal Bureau of Investigation during and after the campaign, including the Steele dossier containing salacious and unproven allegations about Mr. Trump.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Trump fired back. He offered no other examples to prove his point. "And Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts, also".

"So I think it's something that had to be done", he added.

He had high hopes for Trump as president, he writes, but he has been let down. He reiterated that his action was directly tied to the Russian Federation investigation, or "rigged witch hunt", as Trump calls it. All are critics of the president or are people who Trump appears to believe are against him. On Tuesday, Brennan lambasted Trump's personal character after he derided former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as a "dog".

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