Thomas Gallatin / July 24, 2018

Trump Mulls Revoking Security Clearance for Partisan Hacks

The White House accuses six Obama officials of engaging in politicization and baseless accusations.

On Monday, we learned that President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of several Barack Obama-era officials and another from George W. Bush’s term following his meeting with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded to a reporter’s question over whether Trump was looking to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance: “Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to removing security clearance because they’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances. 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.”

Early on Monday, Paul tweeted about his meeting with Trump, “Just got out of WH meeting with [Trump]. I restated to him what I have said in public: John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked.” He added, “Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees.” Paul was referencing the fact that both Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are currently contributors to NBC/MSNBC and CNN respectively.

Last week, Paul described Brennan as unhinged for his history of repeated vitriolic partisan statements against Trump: “John Brennan has a history of leaking information. Not only for political reasons. … Who in their right mind would want to let him have the power still to look through everybody’s records?”

Paul also blasted Obama and his intel heads for “ginning up” the whole Russia collusion conspiracy and then lying about it. Paul has even suggested a broader revocation of security clearances for all those leaving sensitive positions within government, saying, “I would probably have it as a universal policy … when you leave.”

Unsurprisingly, Democrats and the Leftmedia have jumped all over the White House announcement as further evidence of Trump threatening democracy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) bloviated, “As the whole world knows, one week ago, President Trump sold out our democracy in behavior that was damaging, destructive and disgraceful,” while adding that Republicans were “complicit in the President’s betrayal of our democracy.” Clearly she has her eyes on the midterms.

Brennan does indeed deserve to have his security clearance revoked, as he has proven himself to be both an untrustworthy liar and an extremely partisan hack. Government officials retaining a security clearance after leaving office isn’t necessarily a bad thing, specifically because it allows for later administrations to freely question former officials privy to sensitive information without having to go through the long, arduous, and costly process of reinvestigation to renew that clearance. Paul’s broad suggestion of revoking all clearances for officials once they leave the government is seemingly helpful for combating potential deep-state partisanship, but it would in truth be more problematic than beneficial.

Unfortunately, Trump finds himself in a situation like no other previous president, having a former CIA director attack him in a purely politically partisan manner — going so far as to label him as “treasonous.” And as Paul notes, Brennan sought to undermine Trump’s presidency using the apparatus of the intelligence community. Brennan still has top security clearance, but this privilege should immediately be revoked. It may be unprecedented, but it’s not undeserved. While Democrats wail and moan over Trump supposedly politicizing the intelligence community, the truth once again is that leaders within these agencies — like Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey — brought this reputation upon themselves.

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