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Paul Ryan thinks Trump is ‘trolling’ people about revoking security clearances of several Obama officials

The president is reviewing the authorisations of national security officials like former FBI Director James Comey 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Tuesday 24 July 2018 18:30 BST
Paul Ryan on Trump's security clearance comment

Paul Ryan has said he thinks Donald Trump is “trolling people” regarding the White House’s revelation it wants to revoke the security clearance of several former national security officials who have recently criticised the president.

Mr Ryan told journalists: “I think he’s trolling people honestly." But he also said revoking security clearances “is something that is in the purview of the executive branch. I think some of these people have lost their clearance already; some people keep their clearances".

It is unclear if the Speaker of the House was criticising Mr Trump since he also acknowledged the president’s authority to review security authorisations.

The term “trolling,” in the sense many on social media understand it, means to make deliberately offensive or provocative comments to evoke an angry reaction.

Mr Ryan said: “That’s something that the executive branch deals with. That’s not really in our purview”.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during her Monday press briefing the president was considering revoking clearances for a host of former officials - including CIA director John Brennan, former FBI Director James 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.

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

All of them served under Barack Obama, though some like Mr Brennan and Mr Hayden, were originally appointed by Republican George W Bush.

Ms Sanders said the president was "looking into the mechanisms of removing their security clearances because they have politicised and in some cases monetised their public service".

She said all of them had made "baseless accusations" about Mr Trump and alleged collusion with Russian officials.

"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."

The FBI investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether there was collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russian officials continues.

Ms Sanders said these individuals’ accusations lent “inappropriate legitimacy” to the “witch hunt”, how the president has frequently described the investigation.

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