Clearance crackdown at WH
President Donald Trump plans to revoke the security clearances of a handful of former officials who have been critical of his rhetoric and actions toward Russia, the White House announced Monday, in a move that immediately prompted claims of political retaliation. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the officials being examined are former CIA director John Brennan; former FBI director James Comey; former CIA directorMichael Hayden; former national security adviser Susan Rice; former director of national intelligence James Clapper Jr.; and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. “The president is exploring these mechanisms to remove security clearances because they’ve politicized and, in some cases, actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia,” Sanders told reporters at a regular press briefing. She added: “The fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.” The move came shortly after Trump met with Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), who said earlier Monday that he planned to ask the president to revoke Brennan’s clearance. The former Obama administration CIA director last week used the word “treasonous” to describe Trump’s performance at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, saying it showed he was “wholly in the pocket of Putin.” In a tweet shortly after Sanders’ announcement, Paul appeared to take credit for the move. “Just got out of WH meeting with @realDonaldTrump,” Paul tweeted. “I restated to him what I have said in public: John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked.” “Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees,” he added. Democrats immediately criticized the move as an attempt to punish former officials for leveling criticism at Trump. “This is what totalitarianism looks like,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, (DHawaii), said in a tweet. At least two of the officials — Comey and McCabe — do not currently have clearances. Comey hasn’t had a security clearance for many months, according to a person familiar with the matter.