Trump considering revoking security clearances of critical ex

Targeting critics Trump threatens ex-officials’ security clearances

Sanders said the White House was exploring taking away the security clearances of the former officials because "they've politicized and in some cases monetized their clearances".

The threat to deny the officials access to classified information marks the latest escalation in the president's ongoing war with the members of the USA intelligence community.

The wielding of presidential power to punish prominent critics would take this White House perilously closer to potential abuses of executive authority - perhaps moving it onto territory not tested by any commander in chief since Richard Nixon.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul said he told Trump that these officials should have their security clearance revoked, arguing that such action would prevent critical former officials from leveraging their experience to make money on speaking fees. As a technical matter, he might have to order the agencies that granted the clearances to terminate them.

Sanders defended the possible move by saying that Trump "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".

Comey hasn't had a security clearance for many months, according to a person familiar with the matter. "And making baseless accusations of improper relationship with Russian Federation is inappropriate".

Paul kept true to his stance on revoking Brennan's security clearance in an interview with Martha MacCallum of Fox News on Monday evening, saying he was "concerned" about Brennan having privileges due to his past conduct in the Central Intelligence Agency.

Ms Sanders said Mr Trump was "exploring the mechanisms" to remove the security clearances because she said those officials have "politicised and in some cases monetised their public service and security clearances, making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russian Federation or being influenced by Russia".

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Last week, Brennan tweeted: "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous".

At least two of the former officials, McCabe and Comey, do not now have security clearances.

And a friend of Comey, Benjamin Wittes, tweeted Monday afternoon that he texted the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, who told him he doesn't have a security clearance to revoke. "I just can't imagine that you want to go down that road", he said, adding: "If we start interjecting politics into this, our country's going to be significantly weakened".

Mr Clapper, who stepped down as director of national intelligence before Mr Trump took office past year, has accused the president of placing American democratic institutions "under assault".

Some Republicans in Congress, like Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Taylor, say it would be wrong to consider political speech when issuing clearances.

He dismissed Trump's threat to revoke the clearances of top former national security officials as simply the president's way of needling his opponents.

"That's something we do for allies", he added.

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