On Friday, former CIA analyst Philip Mudd and former White House aide Paris Dennard got into a heated argument when Dennard suggested that Mudd made "more money" from consulting firms because of the security clearance he has retained following his government service.
"Twenty-five years in the service and this is the s--t I get? Get out," Mudd said.
The flare-up occurred after President Donald Trump decided last week to pull the security clearance enjoyed by former CIA chief John Brennan and review clearances for other Obama-era officials. Brennan has been an increasingly vocal critics of the president.
In his exchange with Mudd, Dennard -- who serve in the George W. Bush administration -- said "Your contracts and your consulting gigs pay you a lot more money because of the access that you have," and added in reference to security clearance revocations, "I hope the president continues to do this."
Mudd began incensed, retorting, "Profitable, Paris?" Mudd said, "Let me ask you one question. How much do you think I'm paid to do that at the request of the US government? Give me one answer and you got ten seconds. How much?" Responding, Dennard asked, "I'll ask you a question. How much are you paid for your ..." Mudd shouted, "Answer the question! I have no contracts with the US government that pay money. Zero."
Dennard replied, "Phil, let's be honest. I'm not talking about your role with the federal government." Dennard said, "The consulting firms that they form and that you all get is because you get more money ... for having the security clearance. Stop acting like that doesn't happen. That's the truth!"
Former officials "whose personal and professional history affirmatively indicates loyalty to the United States" are able to retain their security clearances even after their tours of duty. If called upon by the government, these individuals are able to provide insight based on their years of experience, but may need to view sensitive information in order to provide an effective analysis.
Mudd rejected the notion that he is monetizing his security clearance while holding positions at an asset-management group, a think-tank, and on the advisory board of the National Counterterrorism Center. "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 D.C. knows, if you don't want to be honest about [that], that's on you," Dennard said. "But if you have a security clearance and you keep it, you get more money to have it."
Mudd shouted, "We're done, Jim," in a reference to show host and CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. "We're done. Get out!"
"It's not your show, so I'm staying right here," Dennard said. "Don't be so defensive about this."
Mudd said, "Twenty-five years in the service and this is the s--t I get? Get out!"
Last week, President Donald Trump revoked former CIA director John Brennan's security clearance, thus sparking criticism among some former members of the intelligence community. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders read a statement by the president that claimed that Brennan had shown "erratic conduct and behavior."
"Mr. Brennan's lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos," Sanders read.
Brennan has since responded on social media, saying that Trump has become “desperate.” In the New York Times, Brennan wrote "Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him."
Dennard said that he agrees with Trump. He also said that Brennan has been too critical of the Trump administration. "For those people who have been overtly political, or for those people who the president believes have done things that have been political as it relates to the Russia investigation ... or calling him treasonous by utilizing that intelligence information that they have," Dennard said, "the president is saying you people on this list should not have that security clearance."
Former National Security Council head James Clapper said later on another network that Brennan’s rhetoric is now a concern.