Date: August 20, 2018

The Washington Post interviewed TELG's Scott Oswald about President Trump's intention to revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan. Scott said such a revocation could be challenged because the president had acknowledged that his motivation for the action was "totally political."

"If there’s ever a case that would represent an exception, it’s this one.”

R. Scott Oswald

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“Revoking” a security clearance is not as simple as Trump made it sound. Battles could play out for years, lawyers say.

Former CIA director John Brennan said Sunday that he’s considering “going to court” to challenge President Trump’s decision to strip him of his security clearance. If he does, plenty of lawyers with expertise in security clearance cases stand ready to help him.

“There’s a ton of us who would do it pro bono,” Mark Zaid, one of the nation’s leading litigators in the field, told The Washington Post on Sunday night.

“I’d be privileged to have him as a client,” said R. Scott Oswald, who specializes in defending whistleblowers at The Employment Law Group.

But none of the attorneys interviewed by The Washington Post in the wake of Brennan’s comments were confident that Brennan, or any of the other officials and former officials threatened by Trump, would prevail in the end.

The deference the courts have traditionally shown the president in matters of national security presents a formidable obstacle, they said, citing in particular a 1988 ruling by the Supreme Court in Department of the Navy v. Egan, in which the justices said, in Zaid’s words, that judges “don’t have the expertise” to adjudicate clearances and “should not be trying to insert” themselves in the process.

Charles McCullough III, a partner in the Compass Rose Legal Group and former inspector general for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, called the prospects in court “quite slim.”

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be battles.

“If there’s ever a case that would represent an exception,” Oswald said, “it’s this one.”

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