White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters during today’s daily briefing that the administration is considering the security clearances of former national security officials who have also been critical of the president.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) began the day by tweeting, “Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?”
“Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!” Paul continued.
Seven hours later, the senator tweeted, “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. Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees.”
Sanders was asked about the conversation, and whether President Trump is considering the request to target Brennan.
“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. The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicize and in some cases monetize their public service and security clearances,” she replied.
“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 these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence,” Sanders added.
Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe no longer have active security clearance.
Comey’s friend Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tweeted that he texted Comey to ask about his clearance, and Comey confirmed he didn’t have one. “There’s nothing for POTUS to revoke. Comey says he was ‘read out’ when he left government as per normal practice,” Wittes said. “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.”
Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden tweeted, “I dont go back for classified briefings (although they occasionally ask me in to offer a view on something). Won’t have any impact on what I say or write.”
Brennan’s last tweet was on July 16: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Former top intelligence officials retain clearances to consult in a classified setting with their successors.