(CNSNews.com) – Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, one of the nine former security officials named by the White House as having their security clearances evaluated, said on Wednesday night that President Trump, ironically, was giving his critics’ views more exposure.
“His doing this apparently reflects concern for what we’ve been saying, and if anything just gives us more legs,” Clapper told CNN.
“And I’m sure it’s going to help Mike Hayden and me sell more books,” he added, in reference to former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, another of the nine people listed by Trump in a statement read out by press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Clapper’s Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From A Life In Intelligence, and Hayden’s
The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies are both critical of Trump.
The statement announced the president’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who has emerged as an outspoken critic of Trump, for instance accusing him on Twitter last month of impeachable conduct following the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Beyond Brennan, Trump said that as part of a review into “the more general question of the access to classified information by government officials,” he is evaluating the security clearances of nine others.
In addition to Clapper and Hayden, they are former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former national security advisor Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the recently-fired former senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an affair and exchanged text messages disparaging Trump, and senior Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, who is under fire from Republicans over links to opposition research firm Fusion GPS and the so-called Steele dossier.
“Security clearances for those who still have them may be revoked, and those who have already lost their security clearance may not be able to have it reinstated,” Trump said of the nine.
In his CNN appearance, Clapper – a former Air Force general who served as DNI during most of President Obama’s two terms – criticized Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance.
“It’s unprecedented for a president to reach down and take such an action on an individual just because he doesn’t like what he says – and that’s really what this is all about.”
Clapper said he and others listed feel that the country’s values and institutions “are under serious assault.”
“I felt a duty and an obligation to speak up,” he said.
‘Petty political game’
Reaction Wednesday also came from Comey, who Trump fired in May last year and has frequently since then attacked on Twitter.
“Once again this president is sending a message that he will punish people who disagree with him and reward those who praise him,” Comey said in a tweeted statement.
“In a democracy, security clearances should not be used as pawns in a petty political game to distract voters from even bigger problems,” he continued.
Comey then listed a series of complaints about Trump, among other things accusing him of encouraging racism, of being a misogynist, and of befriending and praising despots like Putin and Kim Jong Un.
Comey’s memoir released last spring, A Higher Loyalty, is highly critical of Trump, describing him in one passage as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.”
Rice did not respond directly on her Twitter feed, but she did retweet several posts by others, including Vice President Joe Biden (who called Trump’s action “unbecoming of a President”) and former national security council member Ben Rhodes (who tweeted that Brennan “knows a lot more about defending our nation than someone who uses security clearances to punish his political adversaries.”)
Rice has been scathingly critical of Trump on Twitter in the past. Two recent examples were in June – “If Putin were giving Trump instructions, it’s hard to imagine how he could do more damage to America’s alliance and global leadership than Trump has already done” – and in May, when she called the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal “dangerous and dumb.”
Hayden told CNN Wednesday that the statement read out by Sanders “looks to me like an attempt to make us change the things we are saying” in television appearances, adding that for him, “it’s not going to have that effect.”
There was no immediate reaction on Twitter from Strzok, who apparently only opened an account in recent days after being fired, or from Yates on her Twitter feed.
McCabe, Page and Ohr do not appear to have Twitter accounts.