The retired Navy admiral who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid told President Trump in an open letter today that Trump should take his security clearance just as he revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance Wednesday.
Trump said in a statement that he revoked the clearance of Brennan because “at this point in my administration, any benefits that senior officials might glean from consultations with Mr. Brennan are now outweighed by the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.”
Trump criticized Brennan for “a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.” The day before the clearance revocation, Brennan had tweeted in response to Trump calling former White House staff Omarosa Manigault a “dog”: “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.”
In a letter published today in the Washington Post, Retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, who led the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, called Brennan “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,” McRaven wrote. “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,” he continued.
“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.”
The admiral added, “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.”
Trump did not respond to questions about Brennan — or other former national security officials on a potential target list for clearance revocation (including former FBI officials who no longer hold clearances) — at a cabinet meeting today.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night, Trump called the move against Brennan “something that had to be done” because officials on the list “led” the “rigged witch hunt” Russia investigation. “I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Trump said. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”
Those on list include former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former FBI Director James Comey, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The list also targets Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official who was a contact for former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.