US President Donald Trump said he was also reviewing the security clearances of several other former ranking government officials with a view toward revoking them.
US President Donald Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday, accusing Brennan of using his access to classified information in order to "sow division and chaos" about the Trump administration.
Trump announced the decision in a statement from him read by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders at her daily news briefing.
Trump said he was also reviewing the security clearances of several other former ranking government officials with a view toward revoking them.
In response, Brennan said on Wednesday that Trump's decision to revoke his security clearance was part of an effort to silence critics.
"This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics," Brennan wrote on Twitter.
"It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out."
In an interview on MSNBC, Brennan said Trump's action was politically motivated.
This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent. https://t.co/TNzOxhP9ux— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 15, 2018
The decision came a day after Brennan, who headed the US Central Intelligence Agency under Democratic President Barack Obama, leveled a blistering attack against Trump for the president's tweeted criticism of former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who wrote a book critical of Trump.
It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation. https://t.co/eI9HaCec1m— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) August 14, 2018
Trump, without mentioning specific comments made by Brennan, said the former CIA leader had engaged in "frenzied commentary" and had sought to "sow division and chaos" about the Trump administration.
"Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations – wild outbursts on the internet and television – about this administration," Trump said.
High-ranking government officials in the US sometimes retain their security clearances after leaving office, allowing them the ability to provide advice as needed to their successors.