President Donald Trump is investigating whether to revoke the security clearances of as many as six former Obama administration security officials "because they've politicized and, in some cases, monetized their clearances," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.
Sanders said the clearances under review belong to these former Obama intelligence officials: CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Sanders also disclosed the credentials of former FBI Director James Comey and his former No. 2, Andrew McCabe, were under review.
However, Comey said Monday that he no longer had access — and McCabe lost his clearance when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him in April, a spokeswoman said on Twitter.
Trump fired Comey last year.
The press secretary listed the names in response to a question by Newsmax White House correspondent John Gizzi, who asked about calls for Brennan's revocation earlier Monday by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
"The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove the security clearances because they've politicized and, in some cases, monetized their clearances," Sanders said at the daily briefing at the White House. "Making accusations of improper contact with Russia.
"It's extremely inappropriate — and the fact that people with security clearances are making baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence."
Paul earlier Monday took to Twitter to demand Brennan's access to classified information be revoked because of his role in preparing intelligence reports on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and because he remained fiercely critical of the White House.
Brennan slammed Trump's performance in last week's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as "treasonous" and said he was "wholly in the pocket of Putin and that his performance exceeded the threshold for impeachment for 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'"
Weeks before Trump was inaugurated president in January 2017, Clapper oversaw the preparation of a report by the nation’s intelligence agencies that Putin had ordered operatives to interfere in the November election.
He briefed Obama and Trump, who was president-elect, on the findings — and Clapper also said he had disclosed to Trump information about an unsubstantiated dossier of incriminating information.
Trump fired Comey, who was heading the Russia probe, in May 2017. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then named Robert Mueller to head the investigation.
Sessions let McCabe go this past April over the unauthorized release of information to the media and not being forthcoming with Justice Department investigators in how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton email inquiry.
McCabe briefly helmed the FBI after Trump fired Comey — and he abruptly took leave in January after the Justice Department's inspector general completed a report about his actions that eventually led to his firing.
Comey, in a pair of tweets to Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, said "nope" when asked whether he still had security clearance.
In addition, McCabe's credentials were "deactivated" with his termination, his spokeswoman said on Twitter:
Both Hayden, who also headed the NSA, and Rice have been critical of the Trump administration's diplomatic efforts since leaving office.
In response, Clapper slammed Sanders' announcement as "a sad commentary" and "an abuse of the system."
"Typically, there would be a formal notification, not by this means, you’re your clearance is being suspended," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
"You're under investigation because of allegations because of something that would merit revocation or at least suspension.
"There is a formal process for doing this — but I guess, legally, the president has that prerogative," said Clapper, who also is a CNN commentator. "He can suspend or revoke clearances as he sees fit.
"If he chooses to do it for political reasons, well, I think that's a terrible precedent and a sad commentary.
"It's an abuse of the system."
Hayden took to Twitter:
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