The White House on Monday said it was considering taking away the security clearances for six former intelligence and law-enforcement officials, including the Obama-era director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, and the onetime head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation fired by President Donald Trump, James Comey.
According to CNN, "former intelligence officials typically maintain high-level security clearances after they leave their posts - in some cases, they provide counsel to current officials during times of turnover".
She added that their public commentary about the ongoing Russian Federation probe has been inappropriate.
"The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance, because they've politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances, she continued".
"I restated to [Trump] what I have said in public: John Brennan and others partisans should have their security clearances revoked".
Comey's lawyer, David Kelley, said the ex-FBI director "was read out of his security clearance not long after he left the FBI" in mid-2017, after Trump fired him.
Not all the officials in Trump's crosshairs now have jobs that require a security clearance.
Following the Helsinki summit, where Trump declined to endorse the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election, Brennan harshly condemned Trump's performance at the news conference, calling it "nothing short of treasonous". Rand Paul, who wrote on Twitter that he planned to ask about revoking Brennan's clearance when he met with Trump on Monday.
Paul made no specific allegations against Brennan, but floated a hypothetical situation based on the possible conflict-of-interest presented by Brennan's position as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for MSNBC, a vehemently anti-Trump network.
A spokesperson for McCabe, meanwhile, said that his clearance had already been deactivated when he was sacked from his position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that "politicizing security clearances to retaliate against former national security officials who criticize the President would set a awful new precedent".
"An enemies list is ugly, undemocratic and un-American", he added.
"I'm not aware of any plans on that at this point", she said.
Security clearances are good for 5 years.
"Legalities aside, it seems like a awful mistake to use the security clearance system as an instrument of political vendettas", added Aftergood.
Ryan declined to say whether such a move would be appropriate, arguing that it's under the purview of the White House, not Congress. "This is a free country, we have freedom of speech, we have people giving their opinions, and this is just beyond the pale", he said.
"John V. Berry, an attorney who represents federal intelligence agency employees, said such a move would "be awful for America" and totally defeat the process of defending national security".