The White House on Monday announced that President Trump is exploring the possibility of revoking the security clearances of former Obama and Bush administration U.S. intelligence officials who have criticized him, including former CIA Director John Brennan, ex-FBI Director James Comey, former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
During a briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the former officials “have politicized, and in some cases monetized” their security clearances, and have made “baseless accusations” about Trump and Russia “with zero evidence.”
The announcement came hours after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Twitter that he planned to ask Trump to revoke Brennan’s security clearance at a meeting Monday.
Paul said he followed through on that request Monday afternoon.
Just got out of WH meeting with @realDonaldTrump. I restated to him what I have said in public: John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 23, 2018
Brennan, Clapper, Hayden and Rice have all been critical of Trump’s foreign policy, including the U.S. president’s embrace of Russian President Vladimir at a summit in Helsinki.
“It was nothing short of treasonous,” Brennan tweeted.
Former U.S. intelligence officials are known to keep their security clearances so current officials can consult them.
On Twitter, Hayden said he doesn’t go to the White House for classified briefings. If Trump did revoke his security clearance, Hayden said, it “won’t have any effect on what I say or write.”
Clapper called the threatened revocation of his security clearance a “sad commentary” on Trump’s White House.
“For political reasons, this is a petty way of retribution, I suppose, for speaking out against the president, which I think on the part of all of us, are borne out of genuine concerns about President Trump,” Clapper said on CNN.
Trump has routinely criticized the intelligence officials in public statements and on Twitter, but at least two of his targets no longer hold security clearances.
“Andrew McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy,” Melissa Schwartz, McCabe’s spokeswoman, tweeted. “You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps.”
Comey said he doesn’t have one, either.
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