President Donald Trump considered revoking Barack Obama's access to intelligence briefings last year, according to a report in the New Yorker published on Monday. Trump and some of his advisers at the time reportedly saw "former Obama Administration officials as powerful enemies who threatened the new President’s rule."
On Tuesday, Trump responded to the "very tired" New Yorker story on Twitter, calling the report "fake news" and that "never discussed or thought of" revoking Obama's intelligence briefings.
The article highlighted the contentious history between Trump and former CIA Director John Brennan, whose security clearance was revoked by the White House last week. Brennan's public criticism of Trump began right before his inauguration after Trump, in a tweet, accused American intelligence agencies of "leaking Christopher Steele’s dossier to the press and asked, 'Are we living in Nazi Germany?''
Brennan decided to break his silence in March of 2017 after Trump claimed Obama had wiretapped him and his Manhattan headquarters, Trump Tower. "How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process," Trump wrote. "This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
Adam Entous of the New Yorker wrote that in early spring of 2017, "the White House saw former Obama Administration officials as powerful enemies who threatened the new President’s rule, and they agitated for punishing them by revoking their security clearances."
As Trump stepped up his public and private attacks on Obama, some of the new President’s advisers thought that he should take the extraordinary step of denying Obama himself access to intelligence briefings that were made available to all of his living predecessors.
Currently, several Obama-era officials are in danger of having their security clearances revoked. All of these individuals are connected to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the alleged relationship between Trump's campaign and Russia.
It was then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Entous said, who "rebuffed" this idea and extended the security clearances "of his predecessors at the N.S.C., Republicans and Democrats alike." Some of Trump's advisors at the time, Entous reported, suggested suspending Obama's access to intelligence briefings. Trump had reportedly considered doing this until McMaster convinced him of the importance of keeping former presidents informed.
"In the end, Trump decided not to exclude Obama, at the urging of McMaster." McMaster resigned in March 2018.
Brennan's security clearance was revoked last week after he published an Op-Ed in the New York Times describing Trump's claims of "no collusion" with Russia as "hogwash."
One social media user said Obama has been trying to "sabotage" Trump's presidency.
It was met with immediate pushback.
And few are buying the "fake news" argument the president loves to make.
The only fake news is coming from the White House, users say.
Others see Trump's tweets as indicators of fear.
And people think Trump is petty enough to have considered ending Obama's intelligence briefings.