Flake backs effort to rein in Trump on security clearances

Flake backs effort to rein in Trump on security clearances
© Greg Nash
 
Flake, who has been among the most vocal Republicans critical of Trump, said Wednesday that he is supporting the amendment from Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling it the "right thing to do."
 
"I think being conservative means not wanting to amass power in any one institution or individual and this basically takes us back to where we were in the 1990s, which was a better place, I think, in terms of security clearances," Flake said when asked if he was supporting the amendment. 
 
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Flake added in a separate statement that Congress should "ensure that the president is not misusing his executive power" by yanking a security clearance "for purely political reasons." 

Warner introduced the amendment earlier this week to make it more difficult to revoke an individual's security clearance.

The measure blocks federal funding from being used to revoke a clearance unless the move complies with two executive orders that outline who can have access to classified information or U.S. code that details what should be factored into whether a person should have access to classified information.

Flake noted that he had constitutional concerns with the amendment as originally drafted. 

The two filed an updated version of the amendment, which notes that the amendment would block funding from being used to revoke security clearances "in compliance with the Constitution of the United States" as well as the legal provisions included in Warner's original amendment.

The amendment comes after Trump sparked bipartisan backlash earlier this month by revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea Intel agencies' threat assessment matters more than tiff with Trump MORE, a former Obama administration official who has been a vocal critic of Trump throughout his presidency.

The White House has said Trump is considering taking the same action against other former intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe's 25th Amendment comments 'taken out of context,' spokeswoman says Ex-federal prosecutor: I would have 'owned' wearing a wire to record Trump Ex-federal prosecutor: 'Thank God' Whitaker is gone, Barr will bring 'integrity' back to DOJ MORE and former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperIntelligence chiefs should be commended, despite Trump's attacks on them Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller MORE. And Trump threatened to yank the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who has come under fire from Republicans for his links to Fusion GPS, the firm behind a controversial dossier on Trump.

The Warner-Flake proposal faces an uphill battle to getting attached to the Defense-Labor-Health and Human Services-Education funding bill currently being debated by the Senate. 

To bring up the amendment, the senators would need the consent of every senator or for Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault MORE (R-Ky.) to agree to force a vote.