President Donald Trump has started “the mechanism” for pulling security clearances from “certain individuals,” a White House aide revealed Tuesday.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One traveling to Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs, Maryland, that the administration has begun taking the necessary steps to revoke access to classified information from former top intelligence officials but declined to get into specifics.
“What I can say is that the president finds it extremely inappropriate for somebody to go on television under the perception of legitimacy, integrity and level false and baseless claims against another person without any evidence whatsoever,” Gidley told the press gaggle. “He finds that to be somewhat troublesome and concerning, and so he has begun the mechanism to remove security clearances from certain individuals. The names were listed yesterday. And when we have a further announcement on that, we’ll give it to you.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Monday that President Trump is “exploring the mechanisms” to remove the security clearance of Obama-era intelligence officials, including ex-CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey. “The president contends to the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence,” Sanders told White House press reporters.
One reporter pressed Hogan for additional information: “Speaker [Paul] Ryan said he thought the president was just trolling in regards to the clearance issue. Is this serious?”
“No. I mean, the president thinks it is extremely inappropriate for people to go out on television and level those claims with no evidence — to tease an audience with information that they claim to have but offer no backup. That’s problematic. He sees that as deeply concerning, and when we have an announcement on any front, we’ll let you know,” the White House aide replied.
In an interview with CBS anchor Jeff Glor last week, President Trump hit back at a handful of Obama-era Deep Staters who have been vocal critics of his administration. “You look at Brennan, you look at Clapper, you look at Hayden, you look at Comey, you look at McCabe, you look at Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page … certainly, I can’t have any confidence in the past,” the president said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) agrees with President Trump.
On Monday, the Kentucky lawmaker asked the president to revoke Brennan’s security clearance after voicing concerns that the former CIA chief is making “millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on [the president.]” Last Wednesday, Paul eviscerated Brennan for describing President Trump’s performance at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, as “treasonous.”
“You know John Brennan started out his adulthood by voting for the Communist Party presidential candidate. He is now ending his career by showing himself to be the most biased, bigoted, over-the-top, hyperbolic, sort of unhinged director of the CIA we have ever had,” the libertarian told Fox News. “It really is an insult to everything about our government to have a former head of the CIA calling the president treasonous just because he doesn’t like him.”
Reacting to the Helsinki summit, Brennan hinted that GOP lawmakers should take action to remove President Trump while accusing him of “treason.”
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,’” tweeted the Obama-era intelligence official. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin,” he continued. “Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) July 16, 2018
Not to be outdone, Comey also criticized the press conference, accusing President Trump of siding with Russia on the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment about the issue of so-called Russian election interference. “This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country,” tweeted Comey. “Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.”
This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country. Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.
— James Comey (@Comey) July 16, 2018