President Trump suggested on Tuesday that the only reason former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is being “nice” to him is so that he could keep his security clearance.
“Even James Clapper has admonished John Brennan for having gone totally off the rails,” Trump tweeted early on Tuesday morning. “Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance for lying to Congress!”
The tweet is the latest development in the simmering feud between the Trump administration and former high-ranking members of the intelligence community. Last Wednesday, the White House revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan after he publicly and repeatedly criticized the administration. It has also threatened to remove the security clearances of a number of other officials, including former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; former national security adviser Susan Rice; Department of Justice Official Bruce Ohr, as well as James Clapper.
In one particularly bizarre episode, Trump threatened to revoke the security clearance of former intelligence officer Philip Mudd after Trump thought he had a substandard interview on CNN. “Just watched former Intelligence Official Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating,” the president said on Monday. “Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance. Should be REVOKED?””
On Sunday, Brennan threatened to take the administration to court over the decision to remove his security clearance, a move which Trump said he’d welcome. In a tweet on Monday, the president said that he hoped that Brennan — who he described as “the worst CIA director in our country’s history” — brought a lawsuit.
I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2018
Multiple former intelligence officials have fiercely criticized the president’s decision to limit their access via revoking security clearances. As the Washington Post noted, nearly 250 members of the intelligence community have signed a statement condemning the administration’s politicization of security clearances.
One of those was William H. McRaven, a retired navy admiral who oversaw the 2011 operation which killed Osama bin Laden. In an op-ed last week, McRaven accused Trump of using “McCarthy-era tactics” to suppress criticism of him.
Trump, naturally, has completely ignored this criticism, partly because he thinks that the controversy has actually helped John Brennan. “Now he has a bigger voice, and that’s okay with me,” Trump said Friday. “I’ve never respected him, I’ve never had a lot of respect.”