White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Monday that former top intelligence officials may get their security clearances taken away for making “false accusations” against the president. But House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) isn’t taking the president’s threats seriously.
When asked by reporters about it on Tuesday, Ryan seemed exasperated.
“I think he’s trolling people, honestly,” Ryan said. “This is something that’s in the purview of the executive branch. I think some of these people have already lost their clearances. Some people keep their clearances. That’s something that the executive branch deals with. That’s not really in our purview.”
Watch the video below:
NEW: Speaker Ryan on Pres. Trump’s threat to revoke security clearances from former intelligence officials: “I think he’s trolling people, honestly.” https://t.co/kjEIq2OcaX pic.twitter.com/wteoCb5dEE
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2018
Ryan’s downplaying of Monday’s announcement is surprising considering the press secretary spent time outlining the president’s thought process behind the decision to possibly remove security clearances.
Sanders told journalists on Tuesday:
“Accusing the president of the United States of treasonous activity 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 you make false accusations against the president of the United States, he (the president) thinks that is something to be very concerned with. And we’re exploring what those options are and what that looks like.”
One of the officials named in Sanders’ announcement was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who called the threat of taking away his security clearance “petty.”
Former DNI James Clapper on Trump’s threat to revoke his security clearance: “It’s kind of a sad commentary for political reasons. This is kind of a petty way of retribution, I suppose, for speaking out against the president” pic.twitter.com/Q2FGIQegiM
— Axios (@axios) July 23, 2018
It’s unclear whether the president will go through with his promise of revoking security clearances and how soon it will happen. But for now, Ryan — who usually backs Trump in his comments — isn’t buying the threat.