on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director , casting it as necessary to protect national security.
He accused Brennan of leveraging his former government status to make “unfounded and outrageous” charges about his administration in a statement read by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Wednesday’s press briefing.
“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,” Trump said in the statement read by Sanders.
“More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan’s security clearances raises questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our nation’s sensitive secrets long after their time in government has ended.”
“Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks,” the president continued.
Brennan has been a visceral critic of Trump’s presidency, regularly eviscerating him on Twitter, and Trump previously had floated the idea of taking away his clearance.
“As the head of the executive branch and the commander in chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it,” Trump’s statement said.
Trump is reviewing access to classified information for several former intelligence officials – all of whom have criticized Trump publicly or have come under attack from the White House, according to the statement.
They include former Director of National Intelligence , former FBI Director , former National Security Administration Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director , former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
Past administration officials keep security clearances in part to offer counsel and advice to their predecessors. The idea is to ensure that officials acting in security roles can get up-to-the-minute advice from past officials, who may be uniquely positioned to offer it.
The clearances can also be quite valuable to those who have them, as companies can be keen to higher people with top security clearances. This is particularly true of career officials who move into post-government work, or officials who worked in sub-Cabinet political positions.
The announcement came roughly a month after the White House said Trump was considering removing security clearances belonging to Brennan and other former national security officials for “politicizing” and “monetizing” their public service.
Speaker (R-Wis.) notably downplayed the announcement, telling reporters that he believed Trump was “just trolling people” with the idea.
Trump’s interest in revoking clearances followed a meeting with Sen. (R-Ky.), who had questioned on Twitter whether Brennan in particular was “monetizing his security clearance.”
Brennan regularly wins headlines and attention on cable news for ripping into Trump, making Wednesday’s actions feel personal.
He described Trump’s remarks alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July as “nothing short of treasonous” and suggesting they exceeded the threshold of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.
In calling into question Brennan’s credibility, the White House accused Brennan of falsely denying to Congress in 2014 that CIA officials had improperly accessed congressional staffers’ computer files.
Trump also suggested that Brennan lied when he told Congress that the controversial Steele dossier was not used as a basis for the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“More recently, Mr. Brennan told Congress that the intelligence community did not make use of the Steele dossier in an assessment regarding the 2016 election, an assertion contradicted by at least two other senior officials in the intelligence community and all of the facts,” Trump said in the statement.
Multiple former officials have said that the dossier – which contains salacious allegations about Trump’s links to Moscow, many of which have not been proven – did not generate the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the election or provide a basis for the intelligence community assessment.
This breaking news report was updated at 3:22 p.m.