Republicans are rushing to support Trump's petty decision to punish one of his leading critics.
Trump’s fellow Republicans are offering strong support for his petulant decision to strip security clearance from former CIA Director John Brennan for criticizing Trump.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) celebrated the move — and took some credit for making it happen.
“I applaud President Trump for his revoking of John Brennan’s security clearance,” he said in a statement. “I urged the President to do this.” He said that Brennan “should not be allowed near classified information” and accused him, without evidence, of “monetizing and making partisan political use of his clearance since his departure.”
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told reporters he backed Trump and said Brennan has been “totally political.” He called the former director a “butthead” and added, “I don’t see why he would need a security clearance, I really don’t.”
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby supported Trump’s decision while arguing that former officials shouldn’t have clearance.
“I don’t know why they give them security clearances anyway other than maybe a transition period,” he said.
There is a reason for Brennan to have security clearance, even if some Republican senators are unaware of it.
“Former CIA directors typically hold on to their clearance for several years after leaving office in part so that they can share insights with current directors,” the Washington Post noted in July when Trump first issued his threat to strip his critics of security clearance.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said Trump’s punishment of a critic was “entirely appropriate” and that Brennan’s criticism are what landed him “on the president’s radar screen.”
Brennan was still the director of the CIA when Trump was elected.
Sen. Orrin hatch (R-UT) seemed to support Trump’s action because Brennan has criticized Trump, saying “Brennan has not been a friend of the administration at all.”
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who is also chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, suggested Brennan’s specific criticisms of Trump were somehow an attack on the country.
“I think what John Brennan has said about this country over the past several months has been disgraceful,” he said.
By contrast, many Democrats and independent observers have noted that the move is a warning sign that Trump is pushing America toward autocracy by acting like the head of a banana republic.
The ACLU, which has been critical of Brennan in the past, said Trump’s petty move “amounts to unconstitutional retaliation.”
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, slammed Trump’s behavior. He said it evoked an “eerie memory of an enemy’s list” and “smacks of Nixonian types of practices.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called Trump’s action “vindictive and petty.”
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said the revocation is “an action expected of a dictator not an American President.”
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, who so often tries to avoid commenting at all on Trump’s actions and rhetoric, once again went into hiding.
Every day, Trump more closely emulates the dictators and autocrats he openly admires, and Republicans are, as ever, all too happy to let him get away with it, putting party over country.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include additional statements of support from Republican senators.
Published with permission of The American Independent.