‘The president threatened me — too much of a coward to act’: Former CIA analyst calls Trump’s bluff after he threatened to revoke his security clearance

Phillip Mudd.

caption
Phillip Mudd.
source
CNN

  • Former CIA analyst and FBI national-security branch deputy director Philip Mudd said he was calling President Donald Trump’s bluff on a threat to revoke his security clearance.
  • “The president threatened me – too much of a coward to act,” Mudd said during a CNN interview on Thursday. “If you want to take away my security clearance, Mr. President, let’s go.”
  • Mudd was referring to a CNN interview in August, during which he fiercely debated the merits of Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance.
  • Shortly after the August interview, Trump hinted at revoking Mudd’s security clearance.
  • “The president threatened my clearance,” Mudd said. “Not because I did anything inappropriate, not because I took money from the wrong people, but because of what I said on CNN.”

Former CIA analyst and FBI national-security branch deputy director Philip Mudd said he was calling President Donald Trump’s bluff on a threat to revoke his security clearance.

“The president threatened my clearance,” Mudd said during a CNN interview on Thursday. “Not because I did anything inappropriate, not because I took money from the wrong people, but because of what I said on CNN.”

“One question: let’s go,” Mudd said.

Mudd was referring to a CNN interview in August, during which he fiercely debated the merits of Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. At the time, Mudd suggested Trump’s decision was motivated by partisan politics, and grew enraged after Republican strategist Paris Dennard suggested he made “more money” from consulting firms because of his security clearance.

Shortly after the August interview, Trump hinted at revoking Mudd’s security clearance.

“Just watched former Intelligence Official Phillip Mudd become totally unglued and weird while debating wonderful @PARISDENNARD over Brennan’s Security Clearance,” Trump said on Twitter.

“Dennard destroyed him but Mudd is in no mental condition to have such a Clearance. Should be REVOKED?,” Trump said at the time.

Read more: Things got ugly when a Republican strategist accused a former CIA analyst of earning ‘more money’ with his security clearance

President Donald Trump speaks at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on January 21, 2017.

caption
President Donald Trump speaks at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on January 21, 2017.
source
Olivier Doulier/Getty Images

Mudd said on Thursday that he still holds a security clearance, despite Trump’s threat to revoke it.

“The president threatened me – too much of a coward to act,” Mudd said. “If you want to take away my security clearance, Mr. President, let’s go.”

Mudd’s recent comments come amid a New York Times report that indicated Trump “ordered” White House chief of staff John Kelly to grant senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance. Trump reportedly approved of the decision, despite reservations from Kelly, White House counsel Don McGahn, and White House security experts.

Trump previously denied having influenced the process. In an interview with The Times last month, Trump claimed he was “never involved with the security” and he did not “want to get involved in that stuff.”

Read more: Trump teases revoking a former CIA analyst’s security clearance after his heated debate on CNN

Mudd questioned Trump’s potential motives for the alleged order, and said security officials likely had good reason to deny Kushner a top-secret security clearance. Two White House security experts previously deemed his security clearance application “unfavorable” due to potential influence from foreign entities, according to an NBC News report in January.

“Why was it that senior officials in the White House seem to think that Mr. Kushner shouldn’t have a clearance,” Mudd said. “Is it because he talked to the wrong people? Or is it because he took money from the wrong people and didn’t declare it?”

“It’s not just the question of the process, it’s the question of why,” Mudd added. “I was attacked by the president because of what I said. Mr. Kushner, I suspect, had a security clearance that was suspect because of what he did. Why? What is it? That’s what I want to know.”

Former security officials “whose personal and professional history affirmatively indicates loyalty to the United States” are allowed to retain their security clearances. The former officials are seen as subject-matter experts in their field, who would also be able to provide insight when called upon by the government.