(CBS) — There’s a growing firestorm over President Trump’s decision to former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. Now, there are plans to cancel the clearances for other officials. The White House has drafted additional documents revoking the security clearances of current and former officials, and Mr. Trump is ready to sign them, according to The Washington Post, which cited senior administration officials.
Brennan, a fierce critic of the president, has been firing back at Mr. Trump.
“The fact that he’s using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn in his public relations strategy I think is just so reflective of somebody who, quite frankly, I don’t want to use this term maybe, but he’s drunk on power,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Friday.
Brennan made the remark as more than 70 former intelligence officialsto revoke Brennan’s clearance, CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett reported. Brennan said the move was retaliation for criticism of the president’s policies and character, like a tweet from July, when Brennan called Mr. Trump’s performance at a press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin “ .”
“I think this is just another example of Mr. Trump trying to frighten and intimidate others, but I can tell you … these are not the type of people who are going to be bullied or intimidated by someone of the likes of Mr. Trump,” Brennan said.
Early on Saturday, Mr. Trump fired back at Brennan in a tweet, saying “he has become nothing less than a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country!”
Speaking to reporters while leaving the White House Friday, Mr. Trump was asked if a current Department of Justice official should lose his clearance, as some conservatives are suggesting.
“I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly,” Mr. Trump said.
In protest, 15 former top intelligence officials from both Democratic and Republican administrationsat the president’s actions, saying Mr. Trump’s motives have “everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.” They were joined by 60 lower-ranking former CIA officers who also signed a letter supporting Brennan and warning that Mr. Trump is threatening the security of the country.
The president also refused his own advice in publicly taking sides as jury deliberations were underway in the federal trial of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what? He happens to be a very good person. And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” Mr. Trump said.
The president’s sympathetic words for Manafort could be a sign of Mr. Trump’s intention to pardon him if he is found guilty of any of theas it relates to banking and tax fraud. But even that would have to wait, as Manafort will in a D.C. courtroom next month with the special counsel announcing it has three times as much evidence for that trial than it had in Virginia.