Trump Seeks To Yank Security Clearance Of His Critics
- Author: Rogelio Becker Aug 16, 2018,
Aug 16, 2018, 6:24
The list includes former CIA Director John Brennan; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former FBI Director James Comey; retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA; former national security adviser Susan Rice; and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
After Mr Trump gave credence following his Helsinki summit to Putin's denials about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election despite findings by the American intelligence community, Mr Brennan called the president's remarks "nothing short of treasonous".
Press secretary Sarah Sanders read a list of officials being considered for revocation of their clearances on Monday and said the White House is "exploring the mechanisms" by which the government might take them away.
A spokeswoman for McCabe, Melissa Schwartz, wrote on Twitter his security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what they were told was Federal Bureau of Investigation policy.
But he says, "I don't know whether they've been abusing their security clearance at all".
Former intelligence officials said Trump's move looked like an intimidation tactic created to silence others from speaking out against him. This is kind of a petty way of retribution, I suppose for speaking out against the president, he told the CNN. "Won't have any impact on what I say or write". Rand Paul tweeted Monday morning that he would be meeting with Mr. Trump to ask him to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's clearance, claiming Brennan was "monetizing" his clearance by "making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks" on Mr. Trump.
Republican consultant Liz Mair said, "Using executive authority to punish critics sets a bad precedent and looks abusive and overpunitive", and the Trump administration "already has a bad rap where that's concerned".
When asked about the process for removing the security clearances of former officials, Clapper said it was within the President's power to do so.
Trump later claimed he "misspoke" during the meeting, and Sanders on Monday claimed the president stands by the intelligence community's assessment on Russian election interference, which explicitly states the operation was directed by Putin.
"If ... when someone applies for security clearance, are they going to add to the Standard Form 86 a pledge of allegiance to President Trump?".
Paul tweeted later that he had sat down with Trump to talk about Brennan.
Both the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all USA intelligence agencies, said they had no comment on Trump's threat. He said no one from the White House has contacted him about the matter, which he learned about during Sanders' remarks.
Having a security clearance does not entitle anyone to access classified information.