Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Suggests Trump Is Retaliating Against an ‘Enemies List’
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested Thursday that President Donald Trump’s threat to revoke security clearances was being leveled against an “enemies list” of those in the intelligence community who have been critical of his administration — not those who have committed any wrongdoing.
“It is an enemies list to get at people that have been critical or who have taken actions that, you know, he didn’t like. That to me is a pretty chilling message,” Clapper told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
The former intelligence chief said that someone’s security clearances are typically only put in jeopardy “if they mishandle or divulge classified information.”
“I don’t think there’s been any evidence of that presented at all — haven’t had access to it,” he said.
Clapper, a CNN analyst, also pointed to the fact that there were no Trump allies on the list of people from whom the President is considering revoking clearances. That list includes Clapper himself, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA director and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that Trump had revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets,” the President said in a statement read by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Clapper expressed concern about the implications the action and threat of further revocations would have on the first amendment rights of former intelligence officers. He also noted it could have a chilling effect on the greater intelligence community.
“There is a very chilling message here to people in the intelligence community. If you tee up intelligence that the President doesn’t like, you may risk losing your clearance and thereby your job,” Clapper said.
In a Thursday op-ed in The New York Times, Brennan slammed Trump’s move and denounced the President’s claims of “no collusion” as “hogwash.” Clapper said he would not go as far in his assessment of whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, noting that it would be up to the Mueller investigation to make an “official determination.”