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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 TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll 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 Brennan50 former intelligence officials warn NY Post story sounds like Russian disinformation Not treason, not a crime — but definitely a gross abuse of power Trump fires off dozens of tweets while recuperating at White House MORE, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperIs America ready to return to the Obama-Biden foreign policy? Why the Nobel Prize shows the US and China need to work together on gene editing Trump suggests Gold Star families could have infected him 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 ComeyAnalysis: Where the swing states stand in Trump-Biden battle Spies are trying to influence the election — US spies, that is GOP former US attorneys back Biden, say Trump 'threat to rule of law' MORE and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeHillicon Valley: CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify before Senate | European Union police agency warns of increase in cybercrime | Twitter to remove posts hoping for Trump's death Graham officially schedules hearing on Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump eager to leave the hospital MORE.

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

The remarks came after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats 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 PaulGeorgia Republican Drew Ferguson tests positive for COVID-19 Could Blacks and Hispanics hand Trump a November victory? Trump says ex-staffer who penned 'Anonymous' op-ed should be 'prosecuted' 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.