Former CIA Director John O. Brennan said Sunday he would consider suing the Trump administration for revoking his security clearance, prompting Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani to respond: Bring it on.
“Then we take his deposition right away. As the plaintiff he’d have to go first. I’d volunteer to do that case for the president. I’d love to have Brennan under oath for I don’t know, how many days, two, three days? We’ll find about Brennan,” Mr. Giuliani told Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
He cited Mr. Brennan’s role as CIA station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when the Khobar Towers were bombed in 1996, killing 19 U.S. service members, and his support for Communist Party presidential candidate Gus Hall in 1980.
“How do you become CIA director if in the midst of the Cold War, you vote for a Communist? Only Obama would pick you,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Brennan, a security and intelligence analyst for NBC and MSNBC, confirmed Sunday that he had been in contact with lawyers about possible legal action to stop President Trump from pulling other security clearances.
“I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts about the basis for a complaint, an injunction, to try to prevent him from doing this in the future,” Mr. Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The White House has indicated that the security clearances of nine other current and former intelligence officials are also under review.
“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,” Mr. Brennan said. “So I’m going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. And it if means going to court, I will do that.”
Mr. Trump, who withdrew the clearance last week, blasted Mr. Brennan in a Saturday tweet as a “loudmouth, partisan political hack” and “easily the WORST” CIA director in history.
Mr. Brennan called the move “a clear signal to others, that if you cross him and go against him, he’ll use whatever tools he has at his disposal to punish you.”
Former intelligence officials have also decried Mr. Trump’s move. Twelve former senior officials sent a letter last week to the president condemning the decision, followed by 60 lower-ranking ex-CIA officers who said they should be able to weigh in on national security issues “without fear of being punished for doing so.”
Retired Adm. William H. McRaven wrote in an op-ed that he would consider it an “honor” to have his security clearance revoked under such circumstances.
Former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta suggested Sunday that Mr. Trump may not have the authority to revoke security clearances, citing an executive order signed by President Bill Clinton.
“I think there are questions raised as to whether or not this president has followed the executive order, and whether or not he’s provided due process to those that are going to have their security clearances revoked,” Mr. Panetta said on “Face the Nation.”
At the same time, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said Mr. Brennan has hurt his cause with his fiery rhetoric, including his description of Mr. Trump’s behavior at Helsinki last month as “nothing short of treasonous.”
“John and his rhetoric have become I think an issue in and of itself,” Mr. Clapper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“John is sort of like a freight train, and he’s going to say what’s on his mind,” he said. “I think though that the common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values, although we may express that in different ways. I think that’s what really what this is about.”
Mr. Brennan partially walked back his comment Friday, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “I didn’t mean that he committed treason, but it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.”
National Security Adviser John R. Bolton said Sunday he would support reviewing the policy of allowing former government officials to keep their security clearances, saying it “might well be a good idea.”
“I think it’s certainly appropriate in a time when we’re seeing what I believe are unprecedented leaks of highly classified information to look at the question of how many people have clearances, how many people receive this very sensitive information, both inside the government and in the case of former officials,” Mr. Bolton told ABC’s “This Week.”
“I don’t see that there would be anything wrong if it were determined to go that way to review the policies of former officials having clearances,” he said.
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