White House reinforces plans to review security clearances of former officials

White House reinforces plans to review security clearances of former officials
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The White House on Tuesday reiterated President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE's intention to look into revoking security clearances for a number of former intelligence officials who have been critical of the Trump administration, but offered no specifics on the process.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters on Air Force One that the president has "begun the mechanism" to remove security clearances from former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller MORE, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe MORE and several other ex-officials who mainly served in the Obama administration.

However, the timetable and process for doing so remains unclear.

"I can't get into specifics about the mechanism," Gidley said.

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"What I can say is that the president finds it extremely inappropriate for somebody to go on television under the perception of legitimacy, integrity and level false and baseless claims against another person without any evidence whatsoever," he continued. "He finds that to be somewhat troublesome and concerning and so he has begun the mechanism to remove security clearances from certain individuals."

Gidley later clarified to The Associated Press that he meant the mechanism is “being looked at" and had not yet been put into place.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to The Hill that nothing has changed since Monday, when she initially told reporters that Trump is considering taking away security clearances for Brennan, Clapper, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWe've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report House Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe MORE and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeWe've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate MORE.

"He has begun looking at it," Sanders said Tuesday.

The remarks came after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday downplayed the idea that the administration would revoke the security clearances, a prospect that has prompted questions about officials attempting to quiet critics.

Ryan said he believes Trump is just "trolling people" with the concept.

“That’s something that the executive branch deals with," Ryan said. "That’s not really in our purview."

On Monday, Sanders said Trump is bothered that the former officials are "politicizing agencies and departments that are specifically meant to not be political."

“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," Sanders said.

Neither McCabe nor Comey reportedly still has a valid security clearance, but all of the individuals named have been outspoken critics of Trump.

The idea of revoking clearances was first raised by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul: Almost every mass shooter 'is sending off signals' Liz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (R-Ky.), who met with Trump on Monday and questioned whether Brennan was "monetizing his security clearance."

While most of the officials Sanders named have not yet responded to being targeted by Trump, Clapper called it a "very petty thing to do" and noted that his criticisms of the president are not dependent upon having a security clearance.

Updated at 7:06 p.m.