Trump on Silencing Critics by Revoking Security Clearances: ‘If Anything, I’m Giving Them a Bigger Voice’

Melanie Arter | August 17, 2018 | 3:51pm EDT
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President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump said Friday that he’s not silencing his critics by revoking their security clearances, if anything, he said, he’s giving them a bigger voice.

“There's no silence. If anything, I'm giving them a bigger voice. Many people don't even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice, and that's okay with me, because I like taking on voices like that. I've never respected him,” Trump said about former CIA Director John Brennan.


“I've never had a lot of respect, and Senator Burr said it best: If you knew anything, why didn't you report it when you were before all of these committees, including their committee?” the president told reporters before boarding Marine One to go to New York. “So he had a chance to report. He never did.”Trump was referring to Brennan’s op-ed in The New York Times on Thursday saying Trump’s claims of no collusion are “hogwash."

“Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion (with Russia) are, in a word, hogwash,” Brennan wrote.

In response, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he wants to know on what information Brennan is basing his statement.

“If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017?” Burr said in his statement. “If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach. If he has some other personal knowledge of or evidence of collusion, it should be disclosed to the Special Counsel, not The New York Times.”

“This was just -- came up lately, and it's a disgusting thing, frankly. Look, I say it. I say it again: That whole situation is a rigged witch hunt. It's a totally rigged deal. They should be looking at the other side. They should be looking at all the people that got fired by them, all of the people that got fired,” Trump said.

“They should be looking at Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie for dealing with, by the way, indirectly, Russians. They should be looking at Steele. They should be looking at all these FBI guys who got fired and demoted,” he said. “It’s not us. It is a rigged witch hunt. I’ve said it for a long time.”

When asked about revoking Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr’s security clearance, Trump said, “I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly. I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace, with his wife, Nellie. For him to be in the Justice Department, and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace. That is disqualifying for Mueller, and Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts, also, directly yourself. So you know that.”

“Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted. In fact, Comey is like his best friend. I could go into conflict after conflict, but sadly, Mr. Mueller is conflicted, but let him write his report. We did nothing. There’s no collusion, but if he was doing an honest report, he’d write it on the other side. Because when you look at criminality, and you look at problems, take a look at what they did, including colluding with the Russians -- the other side,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, retired Adm. William McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on Thursday with the headline, “Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President.” McRaven served as the commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

A reporter told Trump that “Admiral McRaven says take his pass, too.”

“I don't know McRaven,” the president said. “I know that I've gotten tremendous response from having done that, because security clearances are very important to me. Very, very important, and I've had a tremendous response for having done that.”

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