Earlier this month, President Trump announced in a statement read by his press secretary that he had revoked Brennan’s clearance, citing Brennan’s criticism of the administration and alleging that he had abused his position.
Paperwork to formally revoke the clearance has been “delayed,” a senior White House official said, without offering any explanation.
At the same time, White House officials have also been looking for reasons to revoke the clearances of other former and current officials and preparing the necessary paperwork to do so, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
CIA press secretary Timothy Barrett said, “The CIA does not comment on individual security clearances.” A spokesman for Brennan did not immediately offer a comment.
The White House was prompted to clarify the status of Brennan’s clearance after he appeared on television earlier in the day and said he was still unclear about his status. As a former CIA director, Brennan was allowed to keep a clearance in case current agency leaders want to consult him on classified matters or seek his advice.
“The only thing I’ve heard about my security clearance from the government is when [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the podium that my clearance had been stripped,” Brennan said on MSNBC, where he is a national security analyst. “I’ve not been contacted by anybody at all either before or since then. So whether or not my clearance has been stripped, I’m still uncertain about.”
Brennan served as CIA director under President Barack Obama.
Sanders said on Aug. 15 that Trump had taken action because Brennan had “leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the Internet and television — about this administration.”
Ordinarily, when a U.S. official’s security clearance is revoked, the agency or department that holds the clearance explains the grounds for its action. The clearance holder may be given a chance to appeal the decision and argue that the revocation was unjustified.
That hasn’t happened in Brennan’s case.
Trump made no allegations that Brennan had violated the terms of his access to classified information. And no formal direction was sent from the White House to the CIA ordering it to terminate his clearance and revoke any privileges that came with it.
Trump later told the Wall Street Journal that he’d revoked Brennan’s clearance because of the former director’s role in a counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which eventually led to the current special counsel inquiry investigating possible conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, as well as whether Trump tried to obstruct that inquiry.
Trump has often made significant announcements via Twitter or in interviews before agencies and senior officials were prepared to implement his orders. For example, he sought to ban travel from majority-Muslim countries without consulting immigration and security officials. He also sought to ban transgender men and women from serving in the military via tweet.