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 TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' 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 BrennanMueller's findings don't matter Brennan shreds Trump: ‘I am relieved that you will never have the opportunity to run for public office again’ CNN given all-clear after bomb threat evacuation MORE, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperSenate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation Mueller's findings don't matter FBI email chain may provide most damning evidence of FISA abuses yet 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 ComeyTrump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report Trump: Comey saying Dems 'have to win' in 2020 'exposed his partisan stance' Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — NRCC exposes security flaws 2 years after Russia hacks | Google Plus to shut down early | Scathing House report scolds Equifax for breach | McCarthy knocks Google ahead of CEO's hearing MORE and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe Hill's Morning Report — Takeaways from the battle royal in the Oval Office Mueller’s real challenge Mueller's findings don't matter MORE.

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

The remarks came after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand House GOP blocks lawmakers from forcing Yemen war votes for rest of year 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 PaulLame-duck Congress should pass First Step Act Limited Senate access to CIA intelligence is not conspiracy Dems have new moniker for Trump: ‘Unindicted co-conspirator' 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.