On Monday, the White House announced that President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of a number of prominent top security officials who have expressed different opinions or criticized the commander in chief.
During the press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the gathered reporters that Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
Sanders said the former intelligence chiefs have “politicized and, in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances.” She went on to say that “making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.”
Sanders says Trump is considering revoking security clearances for some ex-intelligence chiefs including John Brennan, James Comey, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Susan Rice and Andrew McCabe https://t.co/sUgPCazayj
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 23, 2018
The moment sent a bit of a shock through the press room, and when ABC News’ Terry Moran asked a follow-up question on the issue, Sanders re-read the prewritten statement. When challenged, she accused Moran of “creating your own story.”
“The president doesn’t like the fact that people are politicizing agencies and departments that are specifically meant to not be political,” she added.
The issue was first raised after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted Monday morning that he planned to ask Trump to revoke the security clearance of Brennan, who led the CIA from 2013 until 2017 and is now a regular fixture on NBC, where he is an analyst:
Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 23, 2018
Some of the other names that Sanders mentioned have also made money from their histories in the government — Comey and Clapper both authored books.
However, the individuals Sanders named have also all been critical of the president. Specifically, most of the individuals have backed the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.