Hill.TV poll: Majority says former officials with security clearances should be able to make political statements publicly

Most Americans say former government officials with security clearances should be able to make political statements in public, according to a new American Barometer survey. 

The poll, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company, found that 55 percent of respondents said such former officials should be allowed to make public political statements, while 45 percent disagreed. 

Sixty-two percent of Republicans polled said the officials should be barred from making political statements in public, while 38 percent said they should be allowed. 

Among Democrats, on the other hand, 70 percent say former officials with security clearances should be allowed to make public statements. 

"To most Americans in a poll like this, what they hear is free speech," political analyst Bill Schneider told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking." 

"Do people who have security clearances have a right to free speech? Well, they're Americans. Of course, they have the right to free speech. And so that's why you got a majority on that side of the issue," he continued. 

The survey comes roughly a week after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE was revoking former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance, accusing him of using his status as a former government official to make “unfounded and outrageous” comments about the administration.

Critics were quick to slam the move, saying it posed a threat to free speech and to those who publicly disagreed with Trump. 

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma MORE, whose security clearance is also under review by the White House, said the move sends "a message that he will punish people who disagree with him and reward those who praise him.”

The American Barometer survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday among 1,000 registered voters. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. 

— Julia Manchester