Trump yanks ex-CIA chief’s clearance

Trump also threatened to yank the clearances of a handful of individuals, including former top intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as a current member of the Justice Department.

All are critics of the president or are people whom Trump appears to believe are against him.

Trump in a statement denounced Brennan’s criticism and spoke of “the risks posed by his erratic conduct and behaviour.”

The president described his action as fulfilling his “constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information.”

However, Brennan called the move an “abuse of power by Mr Trump.”

“I do believe that Mr Trump decided to take this action, as he’s done with others, to try to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration,” he told US TV network MSNBC.

Brennan has been deeply critical of Trump, calling his performance at a press conference last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland “nothing short of treasonous.”

“I’ve seen this type of behaviour and actions on the part of foreign tyrants and despots and autocrats for many, many years during my CIA and national security career. I never, ever thought that I would see it here in the United States,” he said on Wednesday.

Former CIA directors and other top national security officials are typically allowed to keep their clearances so they can be in a position to advise their successors.

Trump accused Brennan of having “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.”

“Mr Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterised by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nations’ most closely held secrets,” Trump said.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he was prepared to yank Brennan’s clearance last week but that it was too “hectic.”

The president was on an extended working vacation at his New Jersey golf club last week.