Sarah Sanders: Donald Trump considering revoking Comey security clearance due to ‘politicising’ and ‘monetising’ his clearance

White House wants to revoke James Comey's security clearance 'for making political statements'

The president says Obama officials have 'monetised' their security clearance 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
@MythiliSk
Monday 23 July 2018 21:05
comments

The White House has said it is considering revoking the security clearance of several former government officials, in particular former FBI Director James Comey, for making "political statements" about Donald Trump.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a host of former officials - including CIA director John Brennan, Mr Comey, deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and director of national intelligence James Clapper - all made "baseless accusations" about Mr Trump and alleged collusion with Russian officials.

In an unsolicited tweet, lifelong Republican James Comey urged Democrats: "Please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left. This president and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership."

Speaking on Monday, Ms Sanders told reporters the president was "looking into the mechanisms of removing their security clearances because they have politicised and in some cases monetised their public service". All of them had served under Barack Obama.

"Being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate" Ms Sanders claimed.

She added: "The fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence."

She alleged those individuals were making "baseless charges" about the president's alleged "improper contacts with a foreign government", referring to the ongoing FBI investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Mr Trump's 2016 US election campaign team and Russian officials.

Ms Sanders echoed the president's oft-used phrase to describe the investigation - a "witch hunt".

What may have angered the president was a series of tweets and media appearances by the individuals on the list, particularly in light of the deluge of criticism he faced from Democrats and Republicans alike after his performance with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the pair's summit in Helsinki, Finland.

Mr Brennan and others accused the president of nearly committing treason for not standing up to Mr Putin regarding the charges that Russia interfered in the election.

Ms Sanders repeated her statement about politicisation and monetisation three times and said: "When you hold 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."

Mr Clapper, a former Republican appointee, speaking to CNN, said though the president has the authority to revoke his status, to do so based on his statements while no longer in office is "very petty".

It is an "abuse of the system" to do so to political opponents, Mr Clapper said, adding: It's kind of a sad commentary where for political reasons this is kind of a petty way for retribution for speaking out against the president, which on the part of all of us are borne out of genuine concerns about President Trump."

Mr Hayden tweeted perhaps a more realistic view of the president's possible action: “I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write.”

The idea to revoke the clearances may have come from US Senator Rand Paul who had met with Mr Trump and tweeted: “Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees."

Mr Paul and the White House were also discussing the administration's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with whom Mr Paul had expressed reservations.

No timeline for the decision was given.

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