President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of former intelligence officials who have criticized him and have been the targets of some of his relentless attacks.
The officials include former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
Sanders was initially asked about Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) calls for Trump to remove Brennan’s security clearance. Paul claimed on Twitter that Brennan has been “monetizing his security clearance” by criticizing Trump.
“The president doesn’t like the fact that people are politicizing agencies and departments,” Sanders added later, despite the fact that Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the work of U.S. intelligence agencies and officials and denigrated them.
She also claimed that the former officials have been “making baseless accusations of improper contact and accusing the president of the United States of treasonous activity,” appearing to refer to the investigation into the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.
According to CNN, “former intelligence officials typically maintain high-level security clearances after they leave their posts — in some cases, they provide counsel to current officials during times of turnover.”
However, it’s unlikely that any action Trump takes would have an effect on these former officials, who are now private citizens.
A spokeswoman for McCabe said his security clearance “was deactivated” when he was forced out of the FBI earlier this year.
Hayden tweeted that he no longer receives “classified briefings” and revoking his security clearance “won’t have any effect on what I say or write.”
Clapper called the threat “a very, very petty thing to do.”
“If he chooses to do it for political reasons, I think that’s a terrible precedent, and it’s a very sad commentary, and it’s an abuse of the system,” he said on CNN.
This post has been updated with more details from and responses to the press briefing.