Published: Tue, July 24, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump considering revoking clearance for ex-Obama officials

Trump considering revoking clearance for ex-Obama officials

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, July 23, 2018, in Washington.

President Trump is considering the revocation of security clearances now held by former Obama administration officials; setting the stage for a high-stakes legal showdown with top government staffers.

Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice and former Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy director Andrew McCabe are the others Ms Sanders said could lose their clearances - but a spokeswoman for Mr McCabe has said he had already lost his.

Trump has targeted the former USA intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, because they have "politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances, making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russian Federation or being influenced by Russian Federation". At least one of the former officials, ex-FBI Deputy Director McCabe, does not now have security clearance, his spokeswoman said.

When a reporter accused Trump of politicizing matters of national security, Sanders replied: "No, I think you are creating your own story there". Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Monday night following former CIA Director John Brennan's criticism of the president's performance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

"John V. Berry, an attorney who represents federal intelligence agency employees, said such a move would "be awful for America" and totally defeat the process of defending national security".

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in Westminster, London, Britain on July 18, 2018. Mrs May is visiting Fermanagh following an invite from Democratic Unionist leader Mrs Foster.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump's administration is also considering taking away the security clearances of former FBI Director James Comey, a vocal critic fired by Trump previous year. "And it's an abuse of the system".

A spokeswoman for McCabe, Melissa Schwartz, wrote on Twitter his security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what they were told was Federal Bureau of Investigation policy.

The CIA did not immediately comment on the White House threat.

"This is absolute nonsense, and we shouldn't fall for it", said Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for Senator Mark Warner, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"The bigger issue to me is the jeopardy to First Amendment rights", he said.

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