Ryan: Trump ‘Just Trolling People’ With Threat To Revoke Security Clearances

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and fellow House Republican leaders hold a news conference following their weekly caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. After President Donald Trump said he believed President Vladimir Putin that Russia did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election during a news conference in Finland, Ryan released a statement critical of Trump. ÒThere is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,Ó Ryan said in a statement. ÒThe president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.Ó
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speculated Tuesday that President Donald Trump was “just trolling people” with his threat to revoke the security clearances of former senior national security officials who’ve been critical of him publicly.

After Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested Monday that Trump revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a press briefing that the White House was looking to revoke the clearances of Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

McCabe and Comey, as it happens, didn’t have security clearances to lose.

“Is it dangerous to go down that road?” MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Ryan Tuesday, referring to the White House’s threat.

“I think he’s trolling people, honestly,” Ryan responded. “This is something that’s in the purview of the Executive Branch. I think some of these people have already lost their clearances. Some people keep their clearances.”

“That’s something the Executive Branch deals with, it’s not really in our purview,” Paul added.

Neither the White House nor spokespeople for Paul responded to TPM’s questions about the threat of clearance revocations.

“Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia — or being influenced by Russia — against the President is extremely inappropriate,” Sanders said at the press briefing Monday, “and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

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