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WH: Brennan, Comey, McCabe, Clapper, Rice Could Lose Security Clearances

Trump weighs pulling security clearance of former top intelligence officials who have been critical

"The fact that people with clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence", Sanders added.

Sanders did not cite specific comments made by any of the officials.

The incident is the latest scuffle between Trump and his critics in a larger battle of whether Trump's campaign had colluded with Russian Federation during the 2016 elections.

Experts appeared split on whether the president has the authority to terminate a security clearance unilaterally. He should lose his security clearance and have it taken away but I wouldn't put him in the same category as Brennan.

The 6 include former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Without such a challenge, Trump's threat may have little impact - except to send a message that he keeps an enemy list and is willing to punish those who criticize his presidency.

Ryan told reporters, "I think he's trolling people, honestly", ending with a little side chuckle. "There's a real danger that they might inadvertently reveal classified information, and you know John Brennan's got a history of this".

But at least two of the former officials, McCabe and Comey, do not now have security clearances, making the threat moot.

Trump weighs pulling security clearance of former top intelligence officials who have been critical

Ryan added that he's comfortable with Putin coming to the United States if a message is delivered that Russian Federation needs to stop interfering in USA elections.

Trump later clarified that he "stood with" USA intelligence agencies and that his remarks at a joint press conference with Putin were misquoted.

"The idea that a president or a White House would single out individuals from a past administration who have been critical and revoke their clearances is not something we have ever seen before. Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees", Paul tweeted after he met with Trump.

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.

When they leave government, national security officials routinely maintain their security clearances, partly to consult with those who replace them about ongoing situations or issues.

Comey reportedly responded "nope", adding that he was "read out" when he left government and later declined a temporary clearance to read a classified version of the DOJ'S inspector general report.

But they agreed that a president asking to revoke the clearance of a political critic would be unprecedented. People with top-secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years; secret clearances last 10. If Trump did revoke his security clearance, Hayden said, it "won't have any effect on what I say or write".

Meanwhile, former Central Intelligence Agency and NSA Director Michael Hayden, now an analyst for CNN, said that he doesn't go in for classified briefings, and revoking his access won't affect what he says or writes. Rep. Adam Schiff, who serves as ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters that Trump was making a "cowardly action of someone who is afraid of criticism".