In an unprecedented move, President Donald Trump is considering revoking the security clearance of some six former top national security officials in the previous Obama administration who have been highly critical of his policies, especially on Russian Federation, the White House has said.
"He's also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe", she said.
The officials are former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Brennan, Comey, Clapper and Hayden, in particular, have been harsh critics of Trump since he took office.
Last week, Brennan tweeted that Trump's news conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin was "nothing short of treasonous" because he refused to confront Putin over Moscow's 2016 election interference and accepted the Russian's denials over the unanimous findings of us intelligence agencies.
Hayden tweeted shortly after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Trump is considering revoking security clearances for an array of mostly Obama-era officials. She added that "making baseless accusations" of any improper relationship with Russian Federation is "inappropriate".
Clapper fired back on CNN, calling the potential revocation of his clearance based only on his comments "a petty thing to do".
Towards the end of the briefing, Sanders was asked if the administration was considering any other actions against the names she listed, and she said "not that I'm aware of".
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday Trump should revoke Brennan's clearance, but Sanders said Trump wants to go further.More news: YouTube Has Removed A TERRIFYING Ad For 'The Nun' After Viewers Complained
"You would think the White House would check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps", she wrote on Twitter.
The six have served in both Republican and Democratic administration, including Trump's.
Experts appeared split on whether the president has the authority to terminate a security clearance unilaterally.
Others, including Comey, have already had their clearances revoked. Rice called Trump's meeting with Putin a "historic mistake".
Former top officials often maintain security clearances in case they need to be consulted on various matters pertaining to national security.
Paul confirmed in a tweet on Monday that he had met with Trump and had urged him to revoke these clearances.
"I told the president in private what I've been saying in public: I think there's a great danger having talking heads on TV who are ex-CIA agents and still have classified clearance", Paul said on Fox News.
The government can shut off or take away clearances for people who are suspected of being security risks, or are at risk of being compromised, or who are involved with alleged criminal activity.
Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, told CNN his clearance "has nothing to do with how I or any of us feel about the president".