President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that one of his biggest critics in the intelligence community, James Clapper, is on his side in his dispute with former CIA Director John Brennan in an effort by the former director of national intelligence to retain his security clearance.
“Even James Clapper has admonished John Brennan for having gone totally off the rails,” Trump tweeted. “Maybe Clapper is being nice to me so he doesn’t lose his Security Clearance for lying to Congress!”
Trump’s tweet follows the administration’s suggestion that after pulling Brennan’s clearance, the President is considering revoking clearances from other current and former officials, all of whom have been critical of Trump or have become a political target by Republicans.
Brennan has been a fierce critic of Trump – going so far as to call Trump’s actions alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in a news conference after their summit in Helsinki, Finland, “nothing short of treasonous.”
Clapper, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he sees Brennan’s rhetoric as concerning, even if he believes the former CIA director has a right to speak his mind.
“I think it is,” Clapper said when asked if Brennan’s hyperbole was an issue. “I think John is sort of like a freight train, and he’s going to say what’s on his mind. I think, though, that the common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up, though, is a genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values, and although we may express that in different ways. And I think that’s what this really is about. But John and his rhetoric, I think, have become an issue in and of itself.”
Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, is one of about 200 former intelligence, military, and diplomatic officials who have signed onto a statement denouncing Trump’s decision to pull Brennan’s clearance.
He also told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” last Thursday that Trump’s threat to revoke security clearances was being leveled against an ‘enemies list’ of those in the intelligence community who have been critical of his administration – not those who have committed any wrongdoing. He called the message Trump was sending “chilling.”
In his tweet Tuesday, Trump accused Clapper of “lying to Congress.” Clapper apologized to Congress in 2013 for providing “erroneous” testimony about US surveillance programs, though he’s never been charged with perjury.
Clapper has also been accused in a majority report from the House Intelligence Committee of providing “inconsistent testimony” about discussing the dossier with journalists. He has denied that allegation.