National Security

Clapper: ‘Very petty’ that Trump is considering revoking security clearances

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday slammed President Trump for considering a revocation of his and other former intelligence officials’ security clearances, calling it a “petty thing to do.”

“The security clearance has nothing to do with how I, or any of us, feel about the president,” Clapper said on CNN, where he is a contributor, moments after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump is considering taking away security clearances from him and other Obama administration officials who have been vocal critics of Trump since he took office.

“I don’t get the briefings, I don’t have access to any classified information,” Clapper said, calling the continuing clearance a “courtesy” for former intelligence officials.


“I don’t know what to say,” he added. “I think this is just a very, very petty — a petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it.”

Clapper added that, typically, an official would go through a formal process in which their security clearance would be revoked or suspended because of an allegation of misuse or wrongdoing. He noted that the president does have the authority to unilaterally revoke clearances.

“If he chooses to do it for political reasons, well, that’s — I think that’s a terrible precedent and I think that’s a very sad commentary,” Clapper said. “And it’s an abuse of the system.”

During Monday’s press briefing, Sanders said Trump is exploring removing the security clearance of Clapper, former CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former FBI Director James Comey.

She also named former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose clearance was revoked when he was dismissed from the agency earlier this year.

All of the individuals named by Sanders served in the Obama administration, though Hayden also served in the George W. Bush administration and Comey served briefly in the Trump administration.

Sanders accused the former officials of “politicizing” and “monetizing” their public service.

“Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia, against the president is extremely inappropriate,” she said. “And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

Her comments followed a tweet from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that suggested Brennan should have his security clearance revoked.

Sanders did not provide a timetable for when the clearances might be revoked. She said she’s “not aware” of any plans to look at clearances of former President Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden.

Tags Andrew McCabe Donald Trump James Clapper James Comey Joe Biden John Brennan Rand Paul Security clearance
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