President Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday is the latest move in what’s been an ongoing rift between the pair.
The announcement, made by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on behalf of the president, accused Brennan of “leveraging” his clearance to make “wild outbursts” and claims against the Trump administration in the media.
In response to the decision, Brennan tweeted that his "principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent."
As recently as Tuesday evening, Brennan, who has been critical of Trump’s conduct, described him as being “the most divisive president we’ve ever had in the oval office.”
“I think Donald Trump has badly sullied the reputation of the office of the presidency. With his invective, with his constant disregard, I think, for human decency, as well as his befriending of autocratic leaders around the world. And his continued pursuit of relationships to benefit himself, as opposed to the country,” Brennan said. “I do think that America’s standing in the world has also been tarnished. What I think even more fundamentally, what he is doing here in the United States is very polarizing and he is, I think, the most divisive president we’ve ever had in the oval office.”
Brennan joined NBC News and MSNBC in February as a contributor and senior national security and intelligence analyst.
The former intelligence official also tweeted Monday, reacting to the president’s tweet saying he’s aware “it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife" like former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman, who has been on a controversial book tour slamming the administration.
“You’re absolutely right,” Brennan tweeted. “If you were ‘presidential,’ you would focus on healing the rifts within our Nation, being truthful about the challenges we face, & showing the world that America is still that shining beacon of freedom, liberty, prosperity, & goodness that welcomes all."
Brennan specifically took issue last month with Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The former intelligence official labeled the summit as “nothing short of treasonous.”
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,’” Brennan tweeted on July 16. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that aired the following day, Trump denied being “pro-Russia” and slammed Brennan as being “a very bad person.”
“I think Brennan is a very bad guy and, if you look at it, a lot of things happened under his watch,” Trump told Carlson. “I think he's a very bad person.”
The president also compared Brennan to FBI official Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
"When you watch all of the things that have happened ... you look at the deception, the lies," Trump said in the interview. "These are people that in my opinion are truly bad people, and they’re being exposed for what they are.”
The rift between Brennan and the president existed before the latter even took office.
President-elect Trump slammed the outgoing CIA director on Jan. 15, 2017 after Brennan said Trump didn’t have a “full understanding” of Russia’s power and threat to the world.
He also suggested that Trump lacked a “full appreciation” of Russia’s aggression or understanding about why President Obama imposed sanctions on the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump responded with two tweets that criticized the CIA’s record under Brennan and questioned whether he had leaked a dossier of controversial unverified allegations about Trump.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.