(CNSNews.com) - The White House said Monday that it is looking into revoking the security clearance of six former intelligence chiefs because they have politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances.
During Monday’s White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) suggestion that former CIA Chief John Brennan’s security clearance be removed.
Sanders confirmed that the president is looking into revoking the security clearance of Brennan, as well as former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Bush CIA Director Michael Hayden.
“Senator Rand Paul today made a strong attempt to vitiate the credibility of former CIA Director John Brennan, saying that he’s and I quote ‘monetizing his security clearance’ and that it should be removed from him. He even called on the president to do this. Will the president consider Senator Paul’s suggestion and call for the removal of former Director Brennan’s security clearance?” Newsmax White House Correspondent John Gizzi asked.
“Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance, because they politicize and in some cases monetize their public service and security clearances,” Sanders said.
“Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence,” she added.
“Could you explain a little bit of the threshold that the president has for taking away former officials’ security clearance? Is it his position then that any former Obama administration official who holds clearance and has made political statements about him should have their clearance revoked? Or is it just limited to the names right now that you read?” a reporter asked.
“As of right now, we are exploring the mechanism on those specific names,” Sanders said.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Paul said last week that it was “alarming” that Brennan, who attacks the president on Twitter and now works for MSNBC as an analyst, may still have top secret security clearance.
"So I think it's completely crazy, and I think the idea that he could be passing secrets to the media, yeah, that's alarming," Paul told Fox News's Tucker Carlson Thursday night.
"What we're going to do -- we're going to send a letter not only to the president asking whether he (Brennan) still has clearance, which I think the president might be interested in this issue. I'm sending the letter also to (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions and also to (Director of National Intelligence) Dan Coats, who's over all of the intelligence,” Paul added.
“The president is threatening to punish Brennan and Comey and Clapper for saying things about him that he doesn't like. Is that presidential?” a reporter asked.
“The president is exploring these mechanisms to resume -- remove security clearance because they've politicized and, in some cases, actually monetized their public service and their security clearances. And making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate,” Sanders replied.
“The president contends to the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence. When we have further updates on that front, I'll certainly let you know,” she said.
“Their free speech, he doesn't like, and he wants to punish them for it,” the reporter said.
“No. I think you are creating your own story there. The president doesn't like the fact that people are politicizing agencies and departments that are specifically meant to not be political and not meant to be monetized off of security clearances,” Sanders said.
“Sarah, I want to follow up and ask a separate question after,but to follow up on that, isn’t the president doing exactly what you just said the president doesn't want all these people doing: politicizing matters of national security by going after his political enemies?” NBC News White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson asked.
“No, the president is not making baseless accusations of improper contact with a foreign government and 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,” Sanders said.
“He thinks that is something to be very concerned with, and we're exploring what those options are and what that looks like,” she added.
When asked whether the president plans to revoke the security clearances of former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders said, “I'm not aware of any plans for that at this point.”