WH Threatens To Strip Security Clearances From Ex-Officials Critical Of Trump

on July 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Donald Trump is “looking to take away” the security clearances of former CIA Director John 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.

All of those individuals served in the Obama administration and some served in the Trump administration, though none currently do. All have been critical of the President. McCabe, according to his spokesperson, had already had his clearance deactivated after being fired by Trump earlier this year. Comey, an unnamed person briefed on the matter told the New York Times, hasn’t had a security clearance for about a year.

During a press briefing Monday, a reporter asked about Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) evidence-free assertion earlier in the day that Brennan could be spilling state secrets to media outlets in order to profit off of his access. Paul’s office never responded to TPM’s questions about what specific allegation, if any, Paul was making.

“Will the President consider Sen. Paul’s suggestion and call for the removal of former director Brennan’s security clearance?” the reporter asked.

Sanders appeared ready for the question, reading her response from prepared remarks.

“Not only is the President looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe,” Sanders said

“The President is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they’ve politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances,” she added. “Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia — or being influenced by Russia — against the President is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

“Isn’t the President doing exactly what you just said the President doesn’t want all these people doing?” NBC News’ Hallie Jackson asked later. “Politicizing matters of national security by going after his political enemies?”

“No, the President’s not making baseless accusations of improper contact with a foreign government and accusing the President of the United States of treasonous activity,” Sanders responded, though Trump frequently made just those kinds of baseless attacks against former President Obama.

She continued: “When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you’re the person that holds the nation’s deepest, most sacred secrets at your hands and you go out and you make false accusations against the President of the United States, he thinks that’s something to be very concerned with, and we’re exploring what those options are and what that looks like.”

Shortly after Sanders’ press conference concluded, Paul tweeted again, this time expanding his argument by saying that Brennan “and others partisans” should have their clearances revoked.

Watch below:

This post has been updated.

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