Trump Revokes Brennan’s Security Clearance

The former CIA Director has been stripped of his access to classified information after repeatedly criticizing the President.

WSJ (“Trump Revokes Ex-CIA Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance“):

President Trump drew a direct connection between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.

In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfering.

Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

Mr. Brennan—who since leaving office has become a frequent critic of the Republican president—in a tweet called the revocation of his clearance “part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics.” He wrote it “should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.”

[…]

Earlier in the day, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was also reviewing the clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, and former National Security Agency and CIA chief Michael Hayden.

“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

Most of the individuals left government service months or years ago under varied circumstances, including being fired by the president and his aides. Some, including Mr. Comey, have said they no longer have or use their clearances.

NYT (“Trump Revokes Ex-C.I.A. Director John Brennan’s Security Clearance“) couches it this way:

President Trump revoked the security clearance of John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director under President Barack Obama, on Wednesday in a striking act of retaliation against an outspoken critic. The president threatened to do the same to other former national security officials who have antagonized him.

Citing what he called Mr. Brennan’s “erratic” behavior and “increasingly frenzied commentary,” Mr. Trump dispatched Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his press secretary, to read a statement saying that Mr. Brennan had abused his access to the United States’ secrets “to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations.”

The statement came only a few weeks after Ms. Sanders warned that Mr. Trump was considering revoking the clearances of Mr. Brennan and others who he believed had politicized and inappropriately profited from their access to delicate information. It was the latest assault by a president who has routinely questioned the loyalties of national security officials and dismissed some of their findings — particularly the conclusion that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election — as attacks against him.

[…]

The revocation of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance also appeared to be a way to change the subject from damaging accusations in a tell-all book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former reality TV show star who worked in the White House and now claims that Mr. Trump used a slur to disparage African-Americans and is in a state of mental decline.

Bradley P. Moss had a detailed piece at lawfare back in July examining the question, “Can the President Revoke Former Officials’ Security Clearances?” The answer is complicated but the short version seems to be that, even if he lacks the legal authority, there’s probably nothing to stop him from doing it.

I join with most of the national security professionals who have expressed their opinion on this matter in believing that this is an abuse of presidential power. Some disagree, however. Sara Carter, a national security affairs reporter for Fox and other conservative outlets, observes,

Trump’s decision to revoke the clearance came on the heels of new tweets issued by Brennan over the past several weeks attacking the president. But the tweets and statements made on MSNBC were not just critical in nature but in some cases accused Trump of treason and alluded to unverified rumors that Russia was blackmailing Trump.

This behavior is not just endemic to Brennan but former senior Obama appointees like National Security Advisor James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, Attorney General Eric Holder and others have gone to social media and cable news outlets to express their displeasure with Trump, as well as instigating unproven allegations that the president could be blackmailed by Russia.

And she found at least one person willing to go further:

“Historically, former heads of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been allowed to retain access to classified information after their government service so that they can consult with their successors regarding matters about which they may have special insights and as a professional courtesy,” Sanders said during a Wednesday press briefing. “Neither of these justifications supports Mr. Brennan’s continued access to classified information.”

Their behavior-said numerous former and current intelligence officials-is damaging to the nation’s national security and eroding the trust the American people have in their institutions.

“Brennan’s actions are unconscionable, ” said a former senior intelligence official. “Trump did the right thing. He is spreading erroneous and derogatory information about President Trump without any proof and it does nothing more than harm our nation and our national security.”

“It’s detrimental to national security, and what does Brennan gain from this? On the other hand, Putin gains everything…watching former senior government officials devouring the office of the president and doing more damage to our nation than the Kremlin dreamed of,” the intelligence official added.

While I think that goes way too far, I wish Brennan, Clapper, and others would be much more cautious in their commentary. Brennan’s caustic attacks on Trump are, in my judgment, harmful in that they contribute to the absurd notion that there’s a Deep State out to get Trump. The intelligence community writ large and the CIA, in particular, is seen by many Trump supporters as particularly suspect, in that they’ve been insistent that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election. Brennan’s half-cocked tweets—almost all of which I happen to agree with—do little to contribute to the substantive debate.

Take, for example, his NYT op-ed (“John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash“) out today in response to the security clearance stripping. Aside from being self-aggrandizing, it adds nothing that we don’t know to the Russia investigation. In particular, contra the headline, it does nothing to bolster the case of Trump collusion with Russia. While I have very strong suspicions, based on mountains of circumstantial evidence, that Trump and his campaign did, in fact, work with Russian actors during the campaign, lending the gravitas of Brennan’s former office to the speculation is counter-productive.

And, frankly, his strongest bit of evidence is not only incredibly weak but was known instantly by the entirety of the IC, news media, and much of the American public in real time:

The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, however, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton. By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

Even as a visceral opponent of Trump at the time, I considered the quip a lame, half-assed joke. Even with the benefit of much more knowledge of Russian action and the campaign’s incredible enmeshment with Russian actors, there’s zero reason to believe that the statement did so much as give Putin and company an idea. Given that they were clearly trying to create havoc for Hillary Clinton, of course they were going to try to hack her campaign emails. The idea that Trump was somehow “colluding” in front of television cameras makes no sense even given Trump’s strange lack of self-control.

Regardless, it’s just not helpful for Brennan and company to be out there with half-baked assertions of “collusion” and “treason.” We have an enormously competent and well-resourced investigative team already working on the problem. Let them do their job.

Again, however, Brennan’s being a loose cannon is not justification for revoking his clearance. He’s not, however, likely to generate a lot of sympathy.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Couple of points, James.

    1. Brennan had not received any classified briefings since January 2017. Carter’s explanation is spurious and a dodge.

    2. That absurd conspiracy theorists make up absurd conspiracy theories is *NOT* a reason to not criticize the President.

    I think you may want to pull this one and just leave up Doug’s…

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  2. Mikey says:

    Two points, James.

    One, this pulling of Brennan’s clearance has nothing whatsoever to do with national security, or indeed with anything besides Trump being petty, thin-skinned, and vindictive. It’s pretty clearly retaliation for Brennan’s criticism. But I’m sure you had long since figured that out.

    Two, this isn’t entirely about Brennan. It’s about those still employed in the intelligence community who might be tempted to speak out, or even to do their jobs in ways Trump does not like.

    This is, as is so much of what Trump says and does, the stuff of dictatorship.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    While I think that goes way too far, I wish Brennan, Clapper, and others would be much more cautious in their commentary.

    Fvck that noise.
    No one seems to get the urgency…that this is a critical juncture for this country.
    Using the power of office to silence your critics is the stuff of Banana Republics, not the United States of America. Taken with attacks on the press, it’s clear we all have a choice. You can speak up, or explain to your kids why you did nothing when the Republic was being dismantled.
    That Republicans are silent in the face of this, is sickening.
    Caution? Fvck that noise.

    Brennan’s caustic attacks on Trump are, in my judgment, harmful in that they contribute to the absurd notion that there’s a Deep State out to get Trump.

    So you think we should cower in the corner, and watch the demise of our country, because insane conspiracy theorists might imagine insane conspiracy theories? Fvck that noise.

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  4. reid says:

    @SKI: Indeed, focusing on Brennan here just feels like concern trolling.

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  5. Joe says:

    I wish there was some way to link Doug’s and James’ somewhat different takes on this so there would be one thread of comments instead of two.

    So, there’s your homework project, James.

  6. Kari Q says:

    Brennan’s caustic attacks on Trump are, in my judgment, harmful in that they contribute to the absurd notion that there’s a Deep State out to get Trump.

    This would be a reasonable argument, if the people who were inclined to believe that there is a conspiracy to “get Trump” were responsive to reason and moderation. If there was a chance that if we just spoke nicely to them, told them quietly and calmly that there is no deep state and no conspiracy, there was at least a possibility that they would have an awakening and realize that they were engaged in paranoid thinking with no basis reality. But they are not responsive to reason,their relationship to reality is tenuous at best, and moderate and gentle rebukes are not going to make any difference.

    You know that perfectly well, of course; you don’t need me to explain it. After all, you say

    The intelligence community writ large and the CIA, in particular, is seen by many Trump supporters as particularly suspect, in that they’ve been insistent that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election.

    Since you know that the Russians did, in fact, interfere in the election with an eye to helping Trump, you surely know that Trump supporters will invent deep state conspiracies out of nothing if need be. It doesn’t actually matter what facts and reality is, and it certainly doesn’t matter what his opponents say.

    But again, you know this, so I’m puzzled why you think it matters how Brennan expresses his opinions. Is it that Brennan’s criticism of Trump makes you, personally, uncomfortable because it’s so confrontational?

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    The answer is complicated but the short version seems to be that, even if he lacks the legal authority, there’s probably nothing to stop him from doing it.

    This is the most important point here. These days I am frequently reminded of the scene in Lincoln when Daniel Day Lewis drew himself up to what seemed like eight feet and said, “I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power!” And we’ve added tremendously to the President’s power since Lincoln.

    It’s defacto legal unless there’s some mechanism to stop it or punish it. With a supine Republican Senate, a friendly Supreme Court, and about 40% of the public who will mindlessly support him no matter what, who’s to stop Trump if he starts ignoring court orders and wholesale firing FBI and Justice people? There are no Constitution Police. If push comes to shove, who orders the 82nd Airborne to forcibly remove him from the White House?

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  8. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    “a friendly Supreme Court”

    And going to get much friendlier if Kavanaugh is confirmed, given his writings on executive power.

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  9. charon says:

    @Kari Q:

    Escalation would be pulling security clearance from Robert Mueller III, Trump has that authority.

    (And Trump does keep bellowing about a witch hunt).

    Then what?

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    What you said.

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  11. Lounsbury says:

    Really this comment is, well deficient as compared to Doug’s.

    Joyner rather reminds me of the description of the limpness of the Wehrmacht conservatives in the face of the norm breaking Hitler (the point of comparision being stark as to the norm breaking, not content of hte politics – that is not to suggest that Trump is a Hitler – he is not).

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  12. tm01 says:

    Let’s see…

    Brennan lied about breaking into the computers of Sen. Feinstein’s staff, and he’s reportedly in trouble with the House Intelligence Committee for lying to Congress about the anti-Trump dossier.

    But sure. Let’s let him keep his security clearance.

    The fact that he’s still pushing the joke as Proof Of Collusion just shows what a total hack this guy is.

    For crying out loud, the Washington Post even recommended that Obama fire the guy over the Feinstein thing.

    But nope, throw logic out the door and keep insisting it’s all personal.

    @SKI:

    Brennan had not received any classified briefings since January 2017

    Not sure that matters. What this does mean is that anyone who may have been passing him classified information on the side, if you will, no longer has the defense of “well he is cleared to view it.”

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  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    I’m torn here. On one hand, Trump’s obviously doing this just to punish criticism and providing yet more evidence of why he ought to be impeached.

    On the other hand, let’s not forget Brennan is the guy who directed the CIA to hack into the Senate’s computer system to spy on Democrat senators and then lied to Congress about it. In a just world, his ass would be in jail right now.

    It’s hard to feel too bad when someone who thinks they’re above the law gets attacked by another person who thinks they’re above the law.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @tm01:
    What-about-ism. Yawn…
    Bottom line…the POTUS is using the power of the office to punish and intimidate his critics.
    And you think it’s a terrific idea.
    Why not move to NoKo or Russia, instead of waiting out the transition to authoritarianism, here? I mean, what if democracy wins and the autocracy you want so badly never happens? Won’t you be disappointed? Simply move now. You will be happier.

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  15. TM01 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    What-about-ism:
    Presenting reasons for Brennan losing his security clearance.

    Do you even think before you type?

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Adam Silverman made a few points about this over at Balloon Juice. First:

    This is all being done outside of the normal clearance review and adjudication process. Here are the actual guidelines for determining a person’s eligibility to hold a clearance (full descriptions at the link):

    1. Allegiance to the United States
    2. Foreign Influence
    3. Foreign Preference
    4. Sexual Behavior
    5. Personal Conduct
    6. Financial Considerations
    7. Alcohol Consumption
    8. Drug Involvement
    9. Psychological Conditions
    10. Criminal Conduct
    11. (mis)Handling Protected Information
    12. Outside Activities
    13. (mis)Use of Information Technology Systems

    All of these are then reviewed and considered together under the whole person concept.

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that trump could never pass that review. The first 3 anyone with half a brain would have doubts about, the next 3 are outright fails, the next 2, well he might not be using now, 9-13 are outright fails again.

    Secondly:

    It is unclear if today’s actions are even legal. Regardless, by doing this and considering doing this to eight others with clearances, the President has now fully politicized the clearance process. What remains to be seen is whether this stands. If it does, for the time being, eligibility for, awarding of, and maintaining a security clearance in the US will be a matter of political patronage rather than the established criteria that is currently used. This is going to throw the entire process of adjudication, awarding, and maintaining clearances into complete disarray. Especially if it is unclear whether this is a matter of access or eligibility – one can be eligible to access classified material without actually having authorization (the need to know) to access it.

    Lastly:

    The real issue here is not the breach of protocols, processes, and procedures dealing with clearances, as egregious as that breach is. Rather, the real issue here is the 1st Amendment one. This is the President of the United States directing the power of the state to punish a critic – DCI (ret) Brennan – for engaging in political speech, which is protected from governmental retaliation under the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights. This is as clear a violation of the oath of office as one could ask for.

    ETA: I should not have included 12 in the outright fails category, tho I am sure he fails that one too, I have not yet seen evidence of it in the press.

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  17. Mister Bluster says:

    #Good Dog TinyMind 0.0000000000001
    “Sitting up straight at attention” as his Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump has demanded of him!

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @SKI: @Mikey: I stated multiple times that revoking Brennan’s security clearance was an abuse of presidential power and shouldn’t have happened. I just simultaneously believe that Brennan’s trolling of the president has been self-aggrandizing and harmful to the cause.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I don’t think anyone should “cower in the corner.” I’ve been highly critical of Trump in dozens of posts. I just think that a handful of former top career officials ought be governed by a very high degree of self-restraint because they make the jobs of those who work in their former agencies more difficult.

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  19. wr says:

    @TM01: “Presenting reasons for Brennan losing his security clearance.”

    Sure. But they aren’t Trump’s reasons, as he’s made clear. Trump did this because Brennan said mean things about him. And you’re fine with that.

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  20. Slugger says:

    Does John Kelly still have a security clearance? Someone who lets a total shlub record him in what is the most secure room in the White House is obviously too incompetent to be entrusted with our nation’s secrets.

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  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    they make the jobs of those who work in their former agencies more difficult.

    NO. The POTUS is making their lives difficult. The POTUS is worthy of criticism. This never happened with previous presidents. It’s happening with this one. Dennison is the the reason.
    Patriots need to speak out against what is happening. If I believed in god I would ask her to bless them.

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  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:

    Presenting reasons for Brennan losing his security clearance.

    I’m not sure any of those are legitimate reasons for revoking a security clearance, especially without process.
    No matter; Dennison made the real reason crystal clear:

    “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham, and these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

    You must be butt-hurt sticking up for a clown that undercuts you, and makes you look the fool, constantly.
    You are dumb.

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  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Lest anyone thinks this Brennan thing is no big deal; Dennison now wants Omarosa arrested.
    What’s standing between us and an Autocracy? Paul Ryan?

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  24. SKI says:

    @James Joyner: So, pray tell, what exactly is the right level of criticism for Trump’s transgressions? A sternly written op-ed? A public frown? A hearty tut-tut?

    At what magical point does criticism become “trolling” to James Joyner? Does it depend on the day? Can anyone else have a different opinion?

    What level of criticism would the insane conspiracy theorists think is acceptable? Would anything short of public fellatio satisfy them?

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  25. Yank says:

    So, pray tell, what exactly is the right level of criticism for Trump’s transgressions? A sternly written op-ed? A public frown? A hearty tut-tut?

    At what magical point does criticism become “trolling” to James Joyner? Does it depend on the day? Can anyone else have a different opinion?

    What level of criticism would the insane conspiracy theorists think is acceptable? Would anything short of public fellatio satisfy them?

    This. I like James, but he is falling into the trap many smart people of the pundit class has falling into in the Trump era. The people pushing the conspiracy theories are operating in bad faith, so there is no point trying to appease them. I have said it before, but a big reason why we are in this mess is because the media and pundit class doesn’t know how to deal with bad faith actors.

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  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Adm. Bill McRaven, who commanded the raid that killed OBL:

    “Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/revoke-my-security-clearance-too-mr-president/2018/08/16/8b149b02-a178-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html?utm_term=.c0c38e71fdd6

    If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

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  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    former top career officials ought be governed by a very high degree of self-restraint

    Also…that’s exactly what Dennison wants. Restraint while he dismantles the Republic. Silence while he ends the USA.

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  28. SKI says:

    Hey, James ! Is General McRaven also inappropriately “trolling”?

    Dear Mr. President:

    Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

    Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

    Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

    A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

    Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

    If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: The Kim Jong Trump schtick is getting tired. You may want to find another so that this one can rest and recuperate.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    I don’t know.
    “President Pud, Chairman of the REPUBLICAN Sex Workers Party” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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  31. Mister Bluster says:

    Furious Trump told advisers that he wants Jeff Sessions to arrest Omarosa over her book: report
    RawStory

    So what should we call a Commander in Chief who would make this request?
    A). President Donald J. Trump
    B). Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump
    C.) WhistleDick

  32. Mikey says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    D) All of the above

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mikey:..D) All of the above

    sad

  34. Kathy says:

    While I think that goes way too far, I wish Brennan, Clapper, and others would be much more cautious in their commentary. Brennan’s caustic attacks on Trump are, in my judgment, harmful in that they contribute to the absurd notion that there’s a Deep State out to get Trump.

    No offense, but for a moment I thought Pearce was now a contributor to the blog.

    I speak a lot about norms, mostly broken ones. One is that officials of past administrations do not attack the officials of the current one, though they may comment on policies and actions. Attacks are left for active politicians in Congress and other posts, as well as those running for office.

    I could argue that Brennan, Clapper, et al are merely reacting to Trump’s provocations, which is true. Civility in government does not come unraveled when you pull a thread, but when other threads are pulled in retaliation. So I should agree these caustic attacks are dangerous.

    However, I do not so argue, because El Cheeto’s incessant attacks even for mild, and truthful, criticism are unraveling civility, not to mention the rule of law, all by themselves. Bringing Trump’s authoritarian style down is paramount, and should be accomplished by any means necessary.

    El Cheeto may not care (may?), but the rest of the GOP does, or should. Eventually he Democrats will be in power, and one can guess they’ll have scores to settle with the current government.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    This is the dilemma in a time when the president of our country is such a repulsive thug…he himself has severely destroyed norms…his behavior is a disgrace to this country…of course anyone opposing him should be better than him, but if others follow norms while he continues to trash everything he touches, than we’re are in a hell of a lot more trouble than just having former government employees being “loose cannons”…if spineless Republican cowards won’t stand up to this disgrace, someone has to, for the sake of our country and for the sake of our world…

  36. Jax says:

    @Mister Bluster: Hahahaha…I almost spit wine on my computer when I read WhistleDick!!

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    Disclaimer: Not responsible for reader’s random expectorations.

  38. TM01 says:

    By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

    Why on Earth would ANYONE trust a person who makes that statement in all seriousness? Brennan literally does not know what a joke is.

    It seems like only yesterday we were defending the President for politicizing the IRS and using it to go after his political opponents. Ah. Those were the days. Real corruption.

    I’ll end by quoting Robert O’Neill:
    23 conservatives went after UBL. No offense, in case you were wondering.

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  39. TomM says:

    @TM01:

    Question: Then why does Flynn still have his clearance?

  40. James Joyner says:

    @SKI: Nope. I’m working on a piece for publication elsewhere arguing that McRaven’s op-ed and an open letter by 13 former top intelligence officials is exactly the right course of action precisely because most of them had kept their powder dry and didn’t waste their gravitas on issues outside their purview.

  41. SKI says:

    @James Joyner: What is your actual argument? That NatSec guys shouldn’t ever criticize elected officials even after they stop working for the government? If so, what is their responsibility as citizens to speak up against things they think are seriously wrong?

    Brennen explained why he is speaking up.

    Many have condemned my public criticism of Mr. Trump, arguing that as a former CIA director, I should bite my tongue. My criticisms, however, are not political; I have never been and will never be a partisan. I speak out for the simple reason that Mr. Trump is failing to live up to the standards that we should all expect of a president.

    As someone who had the rare privilege of directly serving four presidents, I will continue to speak out loudly and critically until integrity, decency, wisdom — and maybe even some humility — return to the White House.

    Brennan’s actions need to be evaluated in light of that underlying determination – that Trump represents truly aberrant behavior that poses a risk to the country. And I don’t think you disagree with speaking up in general (given your support for McRaven).

    So, what is left? A complaint that the methodology – replying via twitter – is inappropriate? A violation of norms? Can such an insistence that social media is undignified be sustained in the face of a POTUS (and world in general) that communicates that way? Don’t you worry that you are basically complaining about kids being on your lawn?

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TM01: Other things Sean Hannity told me to think….

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  43. SKI says:

    And while I’m throwing questions at you, James Joyner

    Which of the 57 tweets Brennan has posted in his life, would you consider trolling and/or outside his purview?

    Are NatSec guys not supposed to have public opinions on other topics?

  44. Leonard says:

    I don’t know the specifics, but it sounds like Omarosa committed a crime by recording in the White House.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy:

    Eventually he Democrats will be in power, and one can guess they’ll have scores to settle with the current government.

    One of the things that has made United States government unique among the various experiments in governing that have been part of the development of the “New World” is that our various successive governments have been able to avoid the whole settling of scores issues of succession in ways that southern-more governments have not–until the advent of Donald J Trump and the rise of Rush Limbaugh-style conservatism. I suppose that the fact of Trump may indicate that we are now on the same never ending stream of kleptocrats-and-despots governments that have been a feature of Latin America, but I hope that future Democratic Party governments elected will avoid the temptation.

    From what I see on the threads here, I won’t be surprised if they don’t avoid that temptation, however. And I won’t be surprised that many here will be disappointed if the do avoid it.

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  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @TM01: I don’t know. Why did you elect a candidate who encouraged a foreign nation to collect intelligence on a United States citizen? I’ve been wondering that.

    BTW, what’s UBL? And why would you be offended about 23 Conservatives going after anyone or anything?

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  47. KM says:

    @Leonard:
    If you don’t know specifics, how are you specifically sure a crime was committed? At the very least, y’all should know what law makes whatever it is you think is illegal illegal. It’s the WH so surely there must be something governing its inhibitents behavior, yeah? Go start there.

    The law doesn’t care what you “think” or what it “sounds like”. Either it is or isn’t illegal – you don’t get to arrest people because you think they did something wrong. Be thankful – Trump and a whole lot of other people are still walking around free because of our rule of law.

  48. An Interested Party says:

    From what I see on the threads here, I won’t be surprised if they don’t avoid that temptation, however. And I won’t be surprised that many here will be disappointed if the do avoid it.

    I’m curious…what have you seen on the threads here that would cause you to think that many here would be disappointed if the Democrats didn’t have the same corrupt thieving government as the Republicans currently have and why the Dems would be as bad as Republicans?

    BTW, what’s UBL? And why would you be offended about 23 Conservatives going after anyone or anything?

    He’s referring to this…it seems this is a hot topic of conversation on conservative websites…funny though, it was a liberal Democratic president who ordered that raid, not a conservative Republican president, no offense, in case you were wondering…

  49. Yank says:

    Eventually he Democrats will be in power, and one can guess they’ll have scores to settle with the current government.

    Democrats aren’t ruthless or petty enough to get even with these people.

  50. teve tory says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You must be butt-hurt sticking up for a clown that undercuts you, and makes you look the fool, constantly.
    You are dumb.

    Trump degrades everyone who supports him. This includes internet commenters.

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM:

    If you don’t know specifics, how are you specifically sure a crime was committed?

    Ummm… because that’s what he read on Lucianne.com and Conservative Treehouse?

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: The second part of the comment related specifically to Kathy’s suggestion that Democrats in power would seek revenge. I’m sorry that you misunderstood. I’m hoping that Democrats in power the next time will get back to the business of running the country. I’m afraid that we’ll be treated to another some number of years of continuing impeachment hearings and other circuses. And I believe that significant numbers of the people on the thread here will be glad to see that happen.

    If you are one of them, go in peace and serve the Lord.

    Thanks for the UBL reference. I thought it was 23 soldiers BTW. Didn’t know that the military is monolithic politically. Doesn’t make me happy–that’s how coups happen.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Yank: That’s what I’m hoping. I’m beginning to have my doubts just the same.

  54. Leonard says:

    @KM: I said I didn’t know, so I didn’t say I was specifically sure. Where’d you ge t specifically sure from?

    Never been to Lucianne.com. Is it good?

  55. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The second part of the comment related specifically to Kathy’s suggestion that Democrats in power would seek revenge. I’m sorry that you misunderstood. I’m hoping that Democrats in power the next time will get back to the business of running the country.

    I hope they will, too. But the temptation to get back at the Trump GOP will be too great. Also, I suspect we haven’t seen the worst that Trump is capable of. For example, what will he do in November if the GOP loses the House? He’s already alleged massive fraud in an election he won. And should the Democrats also take the Senate…

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  56. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Apparently Joyner and similar Pundits don’t understand how Trump and his enablers in the Gov’t are something completely different than a “loyal opposition”. They are all about achieving an outcome and care nothing about norms, processes, or institutions. Because of this…you cannot treat these people they way you would treat Republicans in other Generations. These people see the high road as weakness–and they will appeal you one’s sense of civility as an occasion to advance their own cause.

    Its unfortunate…but you have to get dirty with these kinds of people. They have to be punched in the face–HARD–so they understand that norms, processes, and institutions are there for EVERYONE’s protection and respect them. As it stands now, they believe Institutions are there for suckers. Frankly, current Dem leadership is not up for this kinda party.

  57. An Interested Party says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Thanks for the clarification…while I agree with that if the Dems regain political power, they should do the country’s business rather than focusing on petty revenge, part of that business is to look into what this president and his henchmen are doing…his seems to be one of the most corrupt administrations ever, and something needs to be done about that…it’s not like Republicans will do anything about it…and Jim Brown above does make a very good point…it’s not so much about revenge as it is about protecting the country from this trash…

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: “… it is about protecting the country…”

    Which is exactly what conservatives claim the Clinton impeachment and BENGHAZI!!!!!!! are about. But carry on…

  59. An Interested Party says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Umm, what Trump and company are doing is a little bit different than just getting a blowjob, wouldn’t you say…

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: So it’s a but whatabout, then?

  61. An Interested Partry says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I didn’t make the original comparison, you did…

  62. dazedandconfused says:

    In defense of James…

    The nuts and bolts of defending the country really should be separated from the political as much as humanly possible. Fortunately or not, that essentially means the people involved must make every effort to STFU.

    I suppose that could easily be taken as defense of what Trump has done. Let me put a preemptive check on that: What Trump has done, since it will not S-BrennanTFU, was an idiotic pointless juvenile fit of pique. It even brought McRaven into the fray. Good! McRaven’s statement made no accusations based on internal knowledge of the case against Trump. Perfect.

    I’m thinking of the kind of people the Trump’s are going to appoint in their tenure following the precedent Brennan and Clapper are setting. Who want’s to see those creatures publicly popping off about the next POTUS? I feel we need to resist the temptation to allow Trump’s presidency to set such precedents.. In our system of government we must live with whatever the heck we elect for at least 2 years. I urge patience, only a couple more months to go. i would prefer Trump’s presidency be an aberration. One that leaves little or now legacy on our institutions.

    Nonetheless I believe there may come a point when such people must speak up. “Interesting times” may come. I simply don’t think those times need be this particular moment. Trump is self-destructing IMO. Circling the drain begins very slowly but ends very fast.

    Patience!

  63. al Ameda says:

    Revoking Brennan’s clearance has absolutely nothing to do with national security, and everything to do with Trump’s fear that Mueller’s investigation is on a track that he does not like at all. He’s using Brennan to intimidate others, like former intelligence officials who are now speaking out on CNN, MSNBC, on the Sunday News-Op shows, in op-ed pieces, or those who are contemplating doing so.

    btw … Can you imagine the conservative commentariat/opinionista and congressional Republicans if say … a President Hillary Clinton was busy revoking the security clearances of top level intelligence officials who were extremely critical of her actions vis-a-vis Benghazi, while yet another investigation of Benghazi was in motion?

    I’m pretty sure that FoxNews, Breitbart, TownHall, NewsMax, Drudge, Rush, Sean, Levin, Ingraham, and the entire Republican House and Senate delegations would be fine with that, right? They’d be projectile vomiting on the floors of The House and Senate.

    The Republican House would have articles of impeachment ready to go in a Benghazi minute.