President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan is, according to conventional wisdom, an effort to silence his critics.
This is what Brennan himself says, though there’s no need to take his word for it; James Clapper, former director of national intelligence and potential target for security clearance retaliation, agrees. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, which had harsh words for Brennan during his tenure at the CIA, says Trump’s action violate Brennan’s First Amendment rights.
As is so often the case, however, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Far from trying to silence Brennan, Trump is elevating him. He wants to make Brennan the face of the so-called resistance. This is the Trump playbook. Why do you think he keeps tweeting about Maxine Waters? He is a man who approaches politics like professional wrestling, happy to play the villain if it energizes his base. And for Trump, Brennan is a perfect adversary.