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James Clapper makes a baffling criticism of Trump over revocation of clearance

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper offered a baffling criticism of President Donald Trump over his decision to revoke the clearance of former FBI Director John Brennan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper offered a baffling criticism of President Donald Trump over the revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan's top secret clearance Wednesday.

First Amendment right to classified information?

Clapper appeared to confuse CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin when he opined that it was an infringement on Brennan's First Amendment right to free speech.

"I have consulted with certain senior members of the current administration," Clapper said via phone on CNN. "All of those encounters had to more to do with history or corporate memory, rather than any current issues. I won't name those people for their own protection."

"So will the Republic stand or fall on whether John [Brennan] retains his access to classified information, or mine, or any of the others that were named?" he asked rhetorically. "Of course not."

"The larger issue here, to me," he continued, "as throughout, is the infringement of First Amendment rights, and I think people ought to think seriously about that."

"How do you mean specifically on First Amendment rights when it comes to security clearances?" Baldwin asked, apparently confused at his claim.

"Infringement on our right to speak," Brennan continued, "and apparently the appropriateness of being critical of his president, of which in one degree or another, all of us have been."

Both Clapper and Brennan have been severely critical of the president and his policies.

"I thought the mention of [former FBI Director] Jim Comey and [former Deputy FBI Director] Andy McCabe, who don't have their clearances anymore," he added, "was sort of a cover for naming him in the first place, which was a non-sequitur, since they didn't have, at the time they were first mentioned, they didn't have their clearances then.

"The notion of the possibility of clearances being restored is, you know that's kind of a red herring," he added.

Here's the video of Clapper's odd assertion:

Trump angered many of his critics when it was announced Wednesday that Brennan's clearance would be revoked and several other former government officials were being reviewed over their access to classified information as well.

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