Former security officials blast Trump for yanking Brennan’s clearance

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. security officials issued scathing rebukes to President Donald Trump on Thursday, admonishing him for yanking a top former spy chief’s security clearance in what they cast as an act of political vengeance. Trump said he’d had to do “something” about the “rigged” federal probe of Russian election interference.

Trump’s admission that he acted out of frustration about the Russia probe underscored his willingness to use his executive power to fight back against an investigation he sees as a threat to his presidency. Legal experts said the dispute may add to the evidence being reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, former CIA Director John Brennan said Trump’s decision, announced Wednesday, to deny him access to classified information was a desperate attempt to end Mueller’s investigation. Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama and has become a vocal Trump critic, called Trump’s claims that he did not collude with Russia “hogwash.”

The only question remaining is whether the collusion amounts to a “constituted criminally liable conspiracy,” Brennan wrote.

Later Thursday, the retired Navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden called Trump’s moves “McCarthy-era tactics.” Writing in The Washington Post, William H. McRaven said he would “consider it an honor” if Trump would revoke his clearance, as well.

“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,” McRaven wrote.

That was followed late Thursday by a joint letter from 12 former senior intelligence officials calling Trump’s action “ill-considered and unprecedented.” They said it “has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances — and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.”

The signees included six former CIA directors, five former deputy directors and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Two of the signees — Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden — have appeared on a White House list of people who may also have their security clearances revoked.

Trump on Wednesday openly tied his decision to strip Brennan of his clearance — and threaten nearly a dozen other former and current officials — to the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with his campaign. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump again called the probe a “rigged witch hunt” and said “these people led it!”

“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he said.

The president’s comments were a swift departure from the official explanation given by the White House earlier Wednesday that cited the “the risks” posed by Brennan’s alleged “erratic conduct and behavior.” It marked the latest example of the president contradicting a story his aides had put forward to explain his motivations.

Attorneys said the revocation appeared to be within the president’s authority. But they noted the power play also could be used to reinforce a case alleging obstruction of justice, following the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his repeated tweets calling for the investigation to end.

Patrick Cotter, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and a longtime white-collar defense attorney, said that while a prosecutor could argue that Trump’s targeting of clearances was intended as a warning that “if you contribute to, participate in, support the Russia probe and I find out about it, I’m going to punish you,” it is likely not obstruction in itself.

But, he said the move would be a “powerful piece of evidence” for prosecutors as part of a pattern to demonstrate an intent to use presidential power in connection with the probe.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor agreed.

“What it shows is that the president is fixated on the Russia investigation, he’s angry about it, and he wants to do everything he can to discourage or slow down the investigation,” he said.

Special Counsel Mueller and his team have been looking at Trump’s public statements and tweets as they investigate whether the president could be guilty of obstruction.

“I don’t think it advances the criminal obstruction case, but I think it’s factually relevant,” said Mark Zaid, a national security attorney. “I think it shows the state of mind and intent to interfere or impede any unfavorable discussion of his potential connection to Russia.”

Former CIA directors and other top national security officials are typically allowed to keep their clearances, at least for some period. But Trump said Wednesday he is reviewing the clearances of several other former top intelligence and law enforcement officials, including former FBI Director Comey and current senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. All are critics of the president or are people who Trump appears to believe are against him.

The initial White House statement about Brennan’s clearance made no reference to the Russia investigation. Instead, the president said he was fulfilling his “constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information,” even though he made no suggestion that Brennan was improperly exposing the nation’s secrets.

“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nations’ most closely held secrets,” Trump said.

Just hours later, his explanation had changed.

“You look at any of them and you see the things they’ve done,” Trump told the Journal. “In some cases, they’ve lied before Congress. The Hillary Clinton whole investigation was a total sham.”

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

The episode was reminiscent of Trump’s shifting explanations for firing Comey and the evolving descriptions of the Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer — both topics of interest to Mueller.

And it underscores why the president’s lawyers are fearful of allowing Trump to sit down for an interview with Mueller’s team, as Trump has repeatedly said he is interested in doing.

In announcing Comey’s firing, the White House initially cited the former FBI director’s handling of the probe into Democratic rival Clinton’s emails, seizing on the FBI director’s decision to divulge details of the probe to the public during her campaign against Trump.

But a few days after Comey was dismissed, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview that he was really thinking of “this Russia thing” when he fired Comey.

Trump later changed again, tweeting that he “never fired James Comey because of Russia!”

Early this month, he admitted in a tweet that the Trump Tower meeting, which was arranged by his son, Donald Trump Jr., “was a meeting to get information on an opponent.”

That directly contradicted a July 2017 statement from Trump Jr. — written with the consultation of the White House — that claimed the meeting had been primarily about adoption.

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Politics
The Right Take: Thoughts on Wealth, Inequality, and Thanksgiving
Listen to some politicians and you’d think that America’s wealth should be a source of anger, not thanksgiving.
Nevada Politics Today: Robert Fellner
Nevada’s Supreme Court has ruled that public employee retiree payouts are public records and we’re talking someone from the winning side.
Rosen discusses plans and goals as U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator-elect Jacky Rosen meets with Las Vegas reporters to discuss her win and priorities as Nevada’s next senator.
The Right Take: Republicans Need To Advantage Of Third Party Candidates
Nevada had a blue wave on Tuesday, but some of Nevada’s most conservative voters amplified its reach.
Amy Tarkanian gives passionate speech after husband's election loss
Amy Tarkanian speaks to a small crowd after her husband, Danny Tarkanian, concedes the race for the 3rd Congressional District.
U.S. Senator-Elect Jacky Rosen gives her victory speech
After defeating Dean Heller for the Nevada Senate seat, Jacky Rosen gives her victory speech at Cesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Senator Dean Heller concedes in 2018 election
Senator Dean Heller concedes in 2018 election.
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada 2018 Election Update. Live from Las Vegas Review-Journal Studio with the latest results from election night.
Susie Lee defeats Danny Tarkanian in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District
Susie Lee delivers her acceptance speech after defeating Danny Tarkanian for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada Election 2018: A late night for those wanting election results.
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada Election 2018: A late night for those wanting election results. The latest from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Studio anchor Aaron Drawhorn joined by columnist Victor Joecks discussing voter turnout and impact.
Scenes from the Nevada GOP Election Party
Crowds gather at Nevada's GOP Election Party at South Point in Clark County. Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Long lines in 2018 Nevada election in Las Vegas
Polling places in Clark County, Nev., saw long lines during the 2018 election.
Dennis Hof Wins, What Now?
Although Nevada Republicans have seen stronger elections, brothel owner Dennis Hof, who passed away unexpectedly October 16, managed to win his race for Assembly District 36 despite being dead. Hof ran as a Republican, calling himself the “Trump of Pahrump.” Although the colorful candidate and showman easily defeated his Democratic opponent from the grave, county commissioners from the three counties comprising District 36 must now meet to name Hof’s replacement.
Henderson voters talk about their voting experience
Henderson voters talk about their voting experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Voters hit the polls at Downtown Summerlin in Las Vegas
Voters, including first time voters, were lined up before the doors opened at the voting center in a tent in the parking lot behind Dillard’s at Downtown Summerlin. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election Day time off
Nevada companies are required to give employees one to three hours of paid time off on Election Day, depending on the distance between the place of work and a polling location. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at UNLV Rally
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaks at a UNLV rally hosted by the Nevada State Democratic Party.
Early voting ends Friday in Clark County
The final day of early voting is Friday, Nov. 2. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Voting locations will stay open past their scheduled closing time so long as people are waiting in line to cast ballots. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President’s son visits Las Vegas in support of Republican candidates
Eric and Lara Trump show their support for U.S. Representative Cresent Hardy and other Republican candidates during a rally at the Nevada Republican Party’s Summerlin office.
Barack Obama Encourages Las Vegas To Vote Early
Former President Barack Obama visits Las Vegas to encourage people to vote early for the midterm elections.
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks Along With Democrat Candidates Speak At #Risenvote Rally
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks at the #RiseNVote rally to get voters to vote early.
Heller, Rosen participate in debate
The senatorial debate between Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen highlighted differences between the candidates, who spent much of Friday night exchanging barbs on health care, immigration and gun control. (Courtesy KLAS-TV, Las Vegas)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Duncan details his Safer Nevada plan, responds to campaign commercials
Nevada needs to increase the number of psychiatric ERs and the penalty for some serious crimes, according to Republican attorney general candidate Wes. He also contends that voters should consider Democrat candidate Aaron Ford’s multiple arrests and past tax liens.
The Right Take: Kavanaugh Testifies
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her around 1982 when both were high school students. Her testimony didn’t provide any new information to corroborate her claims, but her emotion was visible for all to see. She projected a genuine belief that Kavanaugh assaulted her.
Nevada Politics Today: Jon Wellinghoff
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks interviews Jon Wellinghoff, CEO of Grid Policy.
The Right Take: Brett Kavanaugh
Two women have recently accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them over three decades ago. Their allegations aren’t just unverified. Numerous supposed eyewitnesses have directly contradicted them.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Michael Ramirez Joins The Review-Journal Team
Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez talks about joining the Review-Journal and how he started his career.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Vice President Mike Pence visits Nellis Air Force Base
During his second visit to Nevada, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to airmen inside a Nellis Air Force Base hangar and spent the afternoon campaigning for GOP Sen. Dean Heller and gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt.
Nevada Politics Today: Karen Wayland
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Jim Marchant
Asm. Marchant talks about education, voter integrity and running for leadership Nevada should increase funding for Career and Technical Education, but shouldn’t automatically register voters at the DMV. Assembly Republicans will also oppose tax increases next legislative session. That’s according to Assemblyman Jim Marchant.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like