According to Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, President Trump is looking into possibilities to revoke security clearances for people that worked for the government. This would be aimed against those that were criticized him regarding his relationship with Vladimir Putin and his comments about the investigation of Moscow’s involvement in 2016 presidential elections.
Some of the officials that might get their clearances revoked are former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former CIA director John Brennan, former national intelligence director James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.
Here is what Sanders said: “They politicize and in some cases actually monetize their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.” She continued by adding: “making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.”
With security clearances that are given, people can work with companies that are involved in classified defense programs and help private contractors. Another good thing here is the fact that former members of the government can talk to their successors on matters that are important for the country.
John Brennan, CIA director under Obama and a senior official in George W. Bush administration had some quite strong words against Helsinki summit that President Trump had with Putin. He used his Twitter account and commented how POTUS’ performance was “nothing short of treasonous.”
James Clapper, the former national intelligence director, stated how his clearance is not influencing his opinion about the president. He also added “And I don’t get the briefings. I don’t have access to classified information.”
On the other hand, Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe stated that his clearance “was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., advised POTUS to revoke some of the clearances as he thinks that there are people who are using those for personal gain. According to Republican consultant Liz Mair, this could be viewed as an attempt of Trump’s administration to punish all critics and anyone that is against some of the moves that were made by the president. Since the current head of the state is already well known for a similar approach, this definitely would not help his reputation in this segment.
Sarah Sanders was also asked if Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden might lose security clearances, she answered: “I’m not aware of any plans for that at this point.”
One thing that Trump and his administration need to have in mind is that these moves can be seen as vengeance on some of his critics. If they do manage to represent it that way, POTUS might meet heavy resistance.