After revoking security clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, Donald Trump reportedly is prepared to exact the same vengeance on other individuals who he sees as political enemies. Bruce Ohr may be his next target. Ohr had a role in the investigation into Russia’s attacks on the 2016 U.S. elections, which Trump has called a ‘rigged witch hunt,’ and Trump has threatened revoking security clearances for many of the highly-positioned officials involved in that investigation. On Friday, Trump said he planned to take Bruce Ohr’s security clearance “very quickly.”
According to The Hill, Trump spoke on Friday about Bruce Ohr, calling him a disgrace.
I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I’ll be taking [his security clearance] away very quickly. For him to be in the Justice Department and doing what he did, that is a disgrace.
Earlier this week Washington Post offered a detailed explanation of Ohr’s connection to the investigation, led by Robert Mueller, into Russian interference with the 2016 election, and any Americans that may be connected to that interference.
Short form is that Rod Rosenstein says he was not directly connected to the investigation, but he served as associate deputy attorney general and has a past working relationship with Christopher Steele, who complied the infamous Steele Dossier which details facts that led investigators to worry that Russian operatives may have information that would compromise Donald Trump.
A message from Steele to Ohr mentioning “our favorite tycoon” has been interpreted by some as referring to Trump, but may have been about a Russian oligarch whose activities the two had been following.
As Hill Reporter covered yesterday, legal analysts say that a president getting involved in the process of revoking security clearances, especially without going through the usual channels, is utterly unprecedented, and could result in legal battles to determine whether Trump actually has that power.
Others who have earned their security clearance are also speaking out against the move. Retired Navy Admiral William McCraven, who oversaw the 2011 Navy Seal raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden, released an editorial through the Washington Post Thursday, responding to the revocation of John Brennan’s security clearance. McCraven told Trump that as president, he has been an embarrassment and humiliation, and called the revocation of security clearances of his critics an attempt to silence criticism. Praising John Brennan’s character, honesty, and integrity, he invited Trump to revoke his own clearance as well.
Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.
The extreme action of revoking security clearances is one more instance of Donald Trump undertaking measures that no other president has done, leaving legal analysts in question about whether the action is actually within his authority.
John Brennan and Bruce Ohr are but two in a list of political opponents who Trump could decide to retaliate against. There has been speculation, according to the Washington Examiner, that Trump could try removing Bob Mueller’s security clearance, as a tactic to end the investigation. If that’s his endgame, these early security revocations could just be a test of power.