WH says Trump still weighing security clearances


Rand Paul tweeted Monday that he asked President Donald Trump to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who criticized Trump's performance last week at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

President Trump was just "trolling" his political opponents when the White House suggested it may try to strip some Obama administration officials of their security clearances, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday that Trump is "exploring the mechanisms" to remove the security clearances.

Those former intelligence officials maintain top-level security clearances in case they need to be consulted on issues they oversaw when they served in government, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell reported.

"They politicize and in some cases actually monetize their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia", Sanders said. "And making baseless accusations of improper relationship with Russian Federation is inappropriate".

From left: Andrew McCabe, James Clapper, John Brennan, James Comey, Michael Hayden and Susan Rice.

A number of former top national security officials have criticized Trump.

"It's kind of a ... petty way of retribution", Clapper told CNN shortly after the announcement adding that he thought the move was in response to speaking out against Trump.

"There is a formal process for doing this, but you know I guess legally the president has that prerogative", Clapper said on CNN.

"It certainly has shadows of some of the worst abuses of the Nixon administration", said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor and national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law who describes himself as a progressive.

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"Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin", Brennan added.

"I dont go back for classified briefings", he tweeted.

The threat to deny the officials access to classified information marks the latest escalation in the president's ongoing war with the members of the us intelligence community. "He can suspend or revoke clearances as he sees fit, and if he chooses to do it for political reasons, well I think that's a awful precedent".

Standing beside Putin, Trump did little to counter the Russian leader's denials and show support for the United States intelligence community's findings that Russia meddled in the election.

Brennan and Rice did not have an immediate comment. "Won't have any impact on what I say or write".

Some of targeted officials appeared to no longer have security clearances.

It isn't clear who among the people on the White House's list may still have an active security clearance; Comey might not still have his after he was sacked by Trump in 2017.

"Andrew McCabe's security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was Federal Bureau of Investigation policy", Melissa Schwartz, McCabe's spokeswoman, tweeted.

Rep. Eliot Engel of NY, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the idea "ridiculous".