Labeling former CIA director John Brennan "the worst CIA Director in our country’s history" in a tweet, President Donald Trump on Monday challenged Brennan to file a lawsuit over the president's stripping of his security clearance last week.
I hope John Brennan, the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2018
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The president appeared to be responding to comments made by Brennan over the weekend, calling the president's decision to revoke his security clearance "another example of his egregious abuse of power and authority" and saying he is weighing legal action as a means to prevent the president from stripping clearances from more former officials.
"I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts on the basis of him doing this in the future. If my clearances and my reputation as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay so I’m going to do whatever I can personally to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court I’m going to do that," Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Even as the president said he hopes Brennan sues, he predicted that the former CIA director ultimately will not follow through with any legal action and accused Brennan of being "involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt."
But in fact, Mueller's probe did not begin until months into the president's term, long after Brennan left his role as head of the CIA. While Brennan has not been involved in the special counsel's inquiry, he has been an outspoken critic of the president's since leaving public service.
Following Trump's news conference last month in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brennan called Trump's performance "nothing short of treasonous."
Those criticisms of the president were cited in the White House's reasons for revoking Brennan's clearance. In announcing the president's decision last Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders cited "risks posed by [Brennan’s] erratic conduct and behavior."
The president's action against Brennan has drawn a strong rebuke from former officials across the intelligence community, including a statement from 15 former high-ranking intelligence officials, another statement from over 60 former CIA officers, and yet another statement from a group of 175 former national security officials.
"We believe ... strongly that former government officials have the right to express their unclassified views on what they see as critical national security issues without fear of being punished for doing so," the group of 175 former officials said in the most recent statement released Monday.
In a second tweet on Monday, the president suggested that many of the people coming to Brennan's defense are not doing so to vouch for Brennan's character -- calling him a "political hack" -- but instead because they want to keep their own clearances.
Everybody wants to keep their Security Clearance, it’s worth great prestige and big dollars, even board seats, and that is why certain people are coming forward to protect Brennan. It certainly isn’t because of the good job he did! He is a political “hack.”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2018