Rep. Cummings Demands Explanation For Stripping Ex-CIA Chief's Security Clearance The lawmaker's letter was one of several reactions to the decision. Also Thursday, a former special operations forces commander defended John Brennan and asked Trump to revoke his clearance too.
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Rep. Cummings Demands Explanation For Stripping Ex-CIA Chief's Security Clearance

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Rep. Cummings Demands Explanation For Stripping Ex-CIA Chief's Security Clearance

Rep. Cummings Demands Explanation For Stripping Ex-CIA Chief's Security Clearance

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The top democrat on the House Oversight Committee wants some answers from the White House. In a letter today, Congressman Elijah Cummings demands an explanation for President Trump's decision this week to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan himself calls Trump's move desperate and politically motivated. The public spat highlights just how politicized intelligence and national security have become in the Trump era. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

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SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: At a White House Cabinet meeting today, President Trump ignored shouted questions from reporters about his unusual decision to revoke Brennan's security clearance. At first Trump issued a statement citing what he called the former spy chief's erratic conduct and wild outbursts. But in a later interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump hinted at another motivation - Brennan's role during the Obama administration investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump believes that investigation planted the seeds for what would ultimately become the special counsel's probe, which has dogged his administration for 15 months. I call it the rigged witch hunt, Trump told the Journal, adding the revocation of Brennan's security clearance was, quote, "something that had to be done." Trump is also threatening to revoke clearances of nine other past and present officials. All of this is upsetting to Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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BOB CORKER: I don't like it at all. And it just feels like a - sort of a banana republic kind of thing.

HORSLEY: But Corker's senate colleague John Kennedy has no sympathy for Brennan. The Louisiana Republican says Brennan brought this on himself with his frequent attacks on the president.

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JOHN KENNEDY: I don't see why he needs the security clearance. He's acted like a butthead. He's acted like a political hack and not a national security professional.

HORSLEY: All this butting of heads is unusual in an area of government that traditionally tries to appear apolitical. Since leaving the CIA, Brennan has been a vocal critic of the president saying, for example, that Trump lacks decency and that his press conference with Vladimir Putin last month was, quote, "nothing short of treasonous." In an op-ed for The New York Times today, Brennan suggests Trump stripped his security clearance in an effort to silence his political opponents. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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