WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan characteristically laughed off concerns about President Donald Trump revoking the security clearances of his political opponents Tuesday, dismissing the president’s actions as just “trolling.”
“I think he’s trolling people, honestly,” the Wisconsin Republican said, chuckling at his own answer.
The speaker went on to say that security clearances are in the purview of the executive branch and that some of the people Trump has targeted to take away their security clearances have already lost their clearances.
When NBC reporter Kasie Hunt pressed once more as to whether this targeting of political opponents was something a “banana republic” would do, Ryan again brushed off concerns.
“I think he’s just trolling people,” he said.
The Trump administration has mentioned about a half-dozen former officials it is considering stripping security clearances from, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden.
All the former officials have been somewhat critical of Trump, particularly his handling of Russian President Vladimir Putin last week in Helsinki.
When Ryan was asked Tuesday about whether he was comfortable with Trump inviting Putin to the White House, Ryan said he’s always been comfortable with presidents sitting down with foreign leaders.
But Ryan did draw the line at Congress receiving Putin with open arms.
“We will certainly not be giving him an invitation to do a joint session. That’s something we reserve for allies,” Ryan said.