White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that President Donald Trump is exploring taking away the security clearances of many people who have been critical of him, including former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan.
When asked about a demand from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to strip the security clearance of Brennan—who has been highly critical of Trump on numerous occasions—Sanders said the idea has been floated in the White House.
Paul said Brennan was “monetizing” his security clearance and tweeted to the president that he would ask for his security clearance to be revoked.
Sanders said in addition to Comey and Brennan, Trump is looking at the possibility of taking away the clearance of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former general and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
“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,” she said during Monday’s White House press briefing. “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they’ve politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances. 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.”
When asked specifically if any former official who had security clearance under former President Barack Obama would lose it, Sanders continued:
“As of right now, we are exploring the mechanism on those specific names,” Sanders said. “I’ll keep you posted when there is further information.”
Sanders also said she was not “aware” of any other actions that would be taken against the people she named.
“The president doesn’t like the fact that people are politicizing agencies and departments that are specifically meant to not be political and not meant to be monetized off security clearances,” she said, later adding: “When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you’re the person that holds the nation’s deepest, most sacred, secrets at your hands and you go out and make false accusations against the president of the United States, he thinks that is something to be very concerned with and we’re exploring what those options are and what that looks like.”
All of the people mentioned by Sanders have been critical of Trump. Comey, who was abruptly fired by the president last year, has made numerous remarks, including urging people to vote for Democrats in the 2018 midterms.
Sanders ended the press conference by saying she was “not aware of any plans” for Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden to have their security clearance stripped away after being asked about the possibility.