President Donald Trump has decided to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance for access to classified information, he said in a statement read by press secretary Sarah Sanders Wednesday.
The courtesy of allowing a former administration official to retain security clearance has been “outweighed by the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” Trump said in the statement. “Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility…”
“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status … to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and on television, about this administration,” he added.
Brennan, who served as director of the clandestine intelligence agency under President Barack Obama, is a frequent critic of Trump’s and a senior national security analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
Specifically, Trump also cited Brennan’s denials that the CIA would access congressional computer files and statements that a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele about Trump during the 2016 campaign did not inform the agency’s findings on Russian interference in the election.
For decades, former national security officials have retained classified clearance in part so that they can be consulted on closely held information by officials in ensuing administrations. Sanders acknowledged that reason — and courtesy — as justifications for many former officials to continue to hold their clearances.
Sanders declined to provide any evidence that Brennan had used his security clearance to improperly access or transfer classified information or to make money.
Brennan had criticized Trump as recently as Tuesday night on MSNBC, calling him “dangerous to our nation.”
In the interview on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” he slammed Trump as “the most divisive president we have ever had in the Oval Office” and someone who has “badly sullied the reputation of the office of the presidency.”
In a tweet earlier in the day, he wrote a missive to Trump in which he said, “it’s astounding how often you live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity.”
“Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation,” Brennan added.
In a June op-ed in The Washington Post, Brennan compared Trump to “corrupt, incompetent and narcissistic foreign officials” and ripped him as someone who “grandstands like a snake-oil salesman.” And in April, he ripped the president’s tariff policy as “simple minded,” tweeting at Trump that he showed “an amazing albeit unsurprising ignorance of how technology, automation, and the attendant evolution of economics and societies have transformed the world.”
When the White House first threatened to pull Brennan’s clearance — along with those of other former and current administration officials — House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that Trump was just “trolling people” and wouldn’t follow through, adding that the process itself was under the purview of the executive branch.
In addition to Brennan, Sanders said the president is reviewing the clearance status of a series of Obama and career intelligence and national security officials, all of whom have been critical of him or were engaged in investigating possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign. They include James Clapper, former director of national intelligence; James Comey, former FBI director; Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency director; Sally Yates, former acting attorney general; and Susan Rice, former national security adviser, along with several several FBI and Justice Department officials who served in both administrations.
The White House later sent out text of the Trump statement as read by Sanders. The statement was dated July 26, three days after the White House first said the president was considering the move. The White House told reporters the date on the release was the result of an internal copy and paste error.
“This has zero to do with national security,” tweeted Michael Bromwich, attorney for former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe, whose name was also on the list. “This is an Official Enemies List. The offense: exercising 1st Amendment rights.” Attorney general Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March, one day before his scheduled retirement, saying that he had not been candid with investigators about his contacts with the media. McCabe denied the charges, saying the dismissal was politically motivated.
Ben Rhodes, who was a former deputy national security adviser to Obama, criticized Trump for targeting political adversaries.
“The fact is that security clearances have never been politicized like this in our history,” Rhodes said on MSNBC.
This article originally appeared on NBC