The Central Intelligence Agency denied security clearance to a top deputy to Michael Flynn, adding to mounting tension between the National Security Adviser and the intelligence community.
Robin Townley, the senior director for Africa on the NSC, had his “Sensitive Compartmented Information” security clearance denied by the CIA Friday, Politico reported, citing two people with direct knowledge of the situation.
CIA forces Flynn ally out of National Security Council by denying key security clearance: report https://t.co/CKzEOOAhcA pic.twitter.com/59YyyQe52B
— The Hill (@thehill) February 11, 2017
More bad news for Flynn. His confidant was kicked off the National Security Council. CIA refused security clearance. https://t.co/Ubwm3r4L4j
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 11, 2017
The elite security clearance is required for service on the NSC and now Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer with top secret-level security clearance, will be forced out of his NSC post, according to the sources.
Top aide to national security adviser Mike Flynn is denied CIA clearance as White House sours on Flynn. W/@kenvogel: https://t.co/yKYD4nEOII
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) February 11, 2017
One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.
Both sources said that the CIA did not offer much explanation for why Townley’s request for so-called “Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearance was rejected. But the sources said that Flynn and his allies believe it was motivated by Townley’s skepticism of the intelligence community’s techniques — sentiments shared by Flynn.
“They believe this is a hit job from inside the CIA on Flynn and the people close to him,” said one source. “Townley believes that the CIA doesn’t run the world,” the source said, adding that some in the intelligence community feel threatened by Flynn and his allies.
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Ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, dismissed the claims as “baloney.”
Trump and Flynn “see treachery everywhere they go,” Schiff said, adding “if a security clearance is denied, it’s for a reason.”
Flynn’s ties with Russia have been under scrutiny and a Washington Post report on Thursday claimed that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S one month before Trump was sworn in as president. Flynn has denied discussing sanctions.
President Trump, answering reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, said he was not aware of the report.
“I don’t know about that. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?” he said. “I haven’t seen that. I’ll look into that,”
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