A top deputy to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was rejected for a critical security clearance, effectively ending his tenure on the National Security Council and escalating tensions between Flynn and the intelligence community.a
The move came as Flynn’s already tense relationships with others in the Trump administration and the intelligence community were growing more fraught after reports that Flynn had breached diplomatic protocols in his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the National Security Council, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.
That forced Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer who had long maintained a top secret-level security clearance, out of his NSC post, explained the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters.
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, who argued that some in the intelligence community feel threatened by Flynn and his allies. “Townley believes that the CIA doesn’t run the world," the source said.
Spokespeople for the NSC and the CIA declined to comment. Townley and the White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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