Michael Hayden: 'Sense of Embarrassment' in Security Clearance Flap

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"The president's action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials 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 statement read.

Trump on Wednesday openly tied his decision to strip Brennan of his clearance - and threaten almost a dozen other former and current officials - to the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with his campaign.

Mr Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama and has become a vocal Trump critic, called Mr Trump's claims that he did not collude with Russian Federation "hogwash".

Trump did not answer questions about Brennan from reporters during a cabinet meeting today.

In the statement, the officials call the move "unprecedented" and caution against using security clearances as a political tool.

The White House said Wednesday that security clearances are under review for former U.S. National Intelligence director James Clapper, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, former Obama administration National Security advisor Susan Rice, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday Brennan's security clearance had been revoked. Gates and Panetta also served as secretaries of defense.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S., August 17, 2018.

"We know John to be an enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual who devoted his adult life to the service of this nation", said tonight's statement, signed by former Central Intelligence Agency directors William Webster, George Tenet, Porter Goss, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, and Hayden, along with Clapper and former deputy Central Intelligence Agency directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Mike Morell, Avirl Haines, and David Cohen.

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Basu later said one of the people was being treated for serious injuries, while the second had been released from the hospital. He added: "My heartfelt thanks goes to the courageous first responders who were so quickly on the scene following the attack".

"If anything, I'm giving him a bigger voice", the president said.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken.

"I've never respected him", Trump said. "I will not relent", Brennan tweeted after the announcement.

Writing in The Washington Post, William H. McRaven said he would "consider it an honour" if Mr Trump would revoke his clearance, as well. And, while many intelligence officials-like former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, and Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr-have all had some of their Trump-Russia communications exposed, thus far, Brennan has been spared.

Webb argued that Brennan does not require a security clearance to go on television and wage a "partisan battle" against Trump and he is still empowered to say what he pleases. "For him to be in the Justice Department, and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace". Trump fired Comey past year. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. "I could go into conflict after conflict", Trump said. "We did nothing. There's no collusion".

"It's a disgusting thing frankly", he said, calling the attempt from top intelligence officials to investigate his campaign a "rigged witch hunt".

Bill Hemmer asked Rove about this, and the former George W. Bush-adviser panned Trump for making a "sideshow" out of his effort to punish his critics, saying it "might have been the right action for the wrong reason".

Putin told reporters in Helsinki, while standing next to Trump, that he had wanted the former NY businessman to win the White House.

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