Trump insists he 'never thought of' denying Obama intelligence briefings
“Fake news” reports claiming “I was going to” cut off the Democratic former president’s access to sensitive information were not true, Mr Trump said.
The claim was made in a New Yorker story which reported that it was the president's advisers who had urged the revocation of Mr Obama’s clearance.
Mr Trump made the decision not to exclude his predecessor following further counsel from HR McMaster, his then-national security adviser, the magazine reported.
Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “Fake News, of which there is soooo much (this time the very tired New Yorker) falsely reported that I was going to take the extraordinary step of denying Intelligence Briefings to President Obama. Never discussed or thought of!”
The unnamed advisers, described by the New Yorker as the president’s “most fervent supporters”, were said to have considered Obama-era officials a powerful threat to his authority.
The White House said it was considering extending the ban to other former government officials including James Comey, the FBI director fired by Mr Trump last year, and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence.
Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst, also appeared at risk of losing his clearance after Mr Trump took exception to his performance during a television debate.
“Just watched former Intelligence Official Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating wonderful @PARISDENNARD over Brennan’s Security Clearance. Dennard destroyed him but Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance. Should be REVOKED? @seanhannity,” the president tweeted late on Monday.
Former high-ranking government employees, including presidents, retain a level of security clearance after they leave public service. Sensitive information can be shared with them so the government can continue to benefit from their advice, according to Michael Morell, a former acting CIA director.
“It’s not just a courtesy,” he told CBS News. “It’s to benefit the government. So, for example, I go into CIA regularly and I help them think through issues, I talk to people, I’m there to assist in any variety of ways. I also serve on a government commission that I could not serve on without having my clearances.”
Mr Brennan has been outspoken in his criticism of Mr Trump, making repeated accusations of “treasonous” behaviour by the Republican following his appearance alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin last month.
His statements against the president began just days into his tenure, when Mr Trump gave what the former intelligence chief called a “despicable display of self-aggrandisement” at CIA headquarters.
Mr Trump had made reference to the size of the crowd at his inauguration – an immediate and atmosphere-defining talking point for his administration – and criticised journalists as “dishonest human beings” while speaking in front of a memorial wall to slain agents.
After he was shut out of intelligence briefings Mr Brennan indicated he might sue the president over his “egregious” decision. “I am going to do whatever I can to try and prevent these abuses occurring in the future and if that means going to court I will do that,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Former national intelligence director James Clapper, also a Trump critic, admitted on Sunday he thought Mr Brennan had sometimes gone too far in his opposition to the president.
“The common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up, though, is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values,” he told CNN’s State of the Union programme, adding: ‘’But John and his rhetoric have become, I think, an issue in and of itself.”