Aug 16, 2018

What they're saying: Politicians fire back after Trump revokes Brennan's clearance

John Brennan. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan citing "erratic conduct and behavior" following criticism of the president by Brennan.

The bottom line: Trump's announcement has received substantial backlash from the intelligence community as well as politicians for revoking Brennan's clearance. Along with Brennan, Trump is also "evaluating action" regarding the current and former clearances of several other former intelligence and law enforcement officials — most of whom have been among his harshest critics. Many are split on the decision as some see the move as an effort to silence them, while others say Brennan shouldn't have been able to keep his clearance in the first place.

What they're saying

Former Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter to defend Brennan, saying the former CIA director has "never been afraid to speak up and give it to you straight." Revoking his clearance won't change that, he added.

Former FBI Director James Comey, whose clearance the administration is also threatening to revoke, said Trump is "once again sending a message that he will punish people who disagree with him and reward those who praise him" in a statement via Twitter.

Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin called Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance a way to "muzzle free speech" in an appearance on MSNBC and said he read through the directive and found no grounds for Brennan's clearance being revoked.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said Brennan's clearance being revoked "makes you less safe" and described Trump's move to revoke it as "petty" in a tweet.

Jamil Jaffer, a former Bush administration DOJ lawyer and National Security Institute founder, called Trump's actions "outrageous" and said just because a president can revoke a clearance "doesn't mean you should" because of the insights former officials can give.

The other side:

Reps. Lee Zeldin and Rick Saccone, however stood out among the former politicians defending the president's action.

Rep. Zeldin (R-NY) took to Twitter arguing, Brennan should have "never received the clearance in 1st place. Literally admitted to voting Communist Party for US President."

Rep. Saccone (R-PA) voiced his opinion tweeting, "officials retain clearance after leaving office as a COURTESY. Brennan has abused the courtesy. You're out!"

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 718,685 — Total deaths: 33,881 — Total recoveries: 149,076.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 139,675 — Total deaths: 2,436 — Total recoveries: 2,661.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

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