Trump teases revoking a former CIA analyst's security clearance after his heated debate on CNN

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump.
  • President Donald Trump hinted that he may revoke another US intelligence official’s security clearance on Monday, after a viral video showed the official in a heated argument with a commentator on CNN.
  • The official is Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst and FBI national security branch deputy director.
  • Trump’s message follows a heated debate between Mudd and Republican strategist Paris Dennard, in which Mudd grew visibly upset after being accused of making “more money” from consulting firms because of his security clearance.
  • Trump described Mudd as being “totally unglued and weird.”

President Donald Trump hinted that he may revoke another US intelligence official’s security clearance on Monday, after a viral video showed the official getting into a heated argument with a commentator on CNN.

The official is Philip Mudd, a former CIA analyst and FBI national security branch deputy director. His argument with Republican strategist Paris Dennard on CNN Friday night made the rounds on social media throughout the weekend and into Monday.

“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 added.

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Trump was referring to the Friday debate between Dennard, a former White House official for President George W. Bush, and Mudd, during which Dennard suggested Mudd made “more money” from consulting firms because of his security clearance. The discussion was supposed to have centered around former CIA director John Brennan’s revoked security clearance, but it quickly went off the rails after Dennard accused Mudd of capitalising on his own security clearance.

Trump and the White House have, without evidence, accused former US intelligence officials who are critical of Trump of taking advantage of their security clearances for monetary gain.

“I have zero relationship with the private sector that involve my security clearance,” Mudd said. “Zero. I get zero dollars from consulting companies that deal with the US government. Are we clear?”

“Well I will be clear in saying that everybody in Washington DC knows, if you don’t want to be honest about [that], that’s on you,” Dennard replied. “But if you have a security clearance and you keep it, you get more money to have it.”

“We’re done, Jim,” Mudd said, referring to CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, who was anchoring the news program. “We’re done. Get out!”

Screen Shot 2018 08 17 at 9.15.21 PMCNNPhilip Mudd, a former CIA analyst and FBI national security branch deputy director, debates with Paris Dennard, a former White House official for President George W. Bush, on CNN.

“It’s not your show, so I’m staying right here,” Dennard said. “Don’t be so defensive about this.”

“Twenty-five years in the service and this is the s–t I get? Get out!,” Mudd said again.

Some former officials are able to keep their security clearances after leaving their post, in the event the government requires their expertise on a particular issue. These former officials would need to view sensitive information in order to provide their analysis, requiring them to possess a security clearance.

Following Trump’s tweet, two other CNN analysts and former US officials rallied to Mudd’s defence on Monday evening.

“Phil Mudd. Seriously?,” retired US Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, said on Twitter.

“I talked to Phil this afternoon coming through Dulles,” Hertling added in another tweet. “I’m sure he’s laughing about [President Donald Trump] asking [Fox News host Sean Hannity] about what to do.”

Retired US Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said he was “proud to call Phil Mudd my friend.”

“Getting to know him has been one of the best things about working here @CNN,” Kirby said on Twitter. “I value his insight, candor and wisdom. He’s a national treasure.”

Mudd did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment Monday night.

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