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. At least McCabe, according to his spokesperson, and possibly more of the officials already had had their clearances deactivated after being fired by Trump.
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 baseless 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.
I mean Sanders makes it clear here that this is about petty revenge, because Donald Trump is a petty, vengeful person and always has been. Of course, there's several former Obama intelligence advisers who have already given up their security clearances...
He even recently declined a temporary clearance from the IG to read the classified annex to the IG’s recent report. He didn’t want to see any classified material lest the president accuse him of leaking it. 2/2— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) July 23, 2018
Oops. Petty and ineffective, that's our Donald!