CNN’s Wolf Blitzer contended Monday night that if President Trump revokes the clearance of CNN national security analyst James Clapper it would constitute a “potential national security threat.”
Blitzer made the comments in the wake of the announcement by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Trump views Clapper, as well as former CIA Director John Brennan, ex-FBI Director James Comey, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as abusing their positions by taking jobs with the media.
Sanders contended that the former Obama officials, intrinsically linked to the ‘deep state’ which Trump frequently refers to, have “politicized the process” by taking jobs at MSNBC and CNN.
Blitzer made the comments after his panel argued that revoking security clearance from the former officials would amount to restricting their ‘free speech’.
The entire debate was based around charging that President Trump is attempting to silence his critics, when in reality, these former officials are using their clearance to provide the media and anyone else who pays them with sensitive inside information.
“It’s pretty obvious, Wolf, what the reason, you know, why we were singled out for this contemplated action is because of, you know, the criticism that we have expressed about and reservations we expressed about the President.” Clapper claimed, calling the threat “pretty chilling”.
Blitzer suggested that “it’s very, very common for current officials to speak with their predecessors” and therefore revoking security access would impede that process.
“If you remove security clearances from a James Clapper, for example, spent 32 years a an intelligence official, worked his way up to a our-star general in the military, you say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to bother talking to that person any more,’ – that’s a potential national security threat.” Blitzer later posited.
It seems that the idea of revoking security clearance came directly from Senator Rand Paul who advised Trump to take such action following the sensationalization of Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. john Brennan and others called Trump’s actions at the meeting treasonous.
Public officials should not use their security clearances to leverage speaking fees or network talking head fees
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 23, 2018
It appears that both Comey and McCabe have already had their clearances revoked after Trump fired them from the FBI, and Hayden has declared that such a move would not affect him at all.
I just texted @Comey asking whether he even has a security clearance to revoke.
“Nope,” he responded. There’s nothing for POTUS to revoke. Comey says he was “read out” when he left government as per normal practice. 1/2
— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) July 23, 2018
Andrew McCabe's security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps… https://t.co/ZOKJDChpeP
— Melissa Schwartz (@MSchwartz3) July 23, 2018
I dont go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) July 23, 2018
However, this has not stopped Trump’s enemies from once again attempting to whip up a frenzy:
Trump is politicizing America’s national security by seeking to revoke security clearances of former officials who have spoken up for our democracy & spoken out against his corrupt & severely misguided actions. This is indefensible. #ProtectOurDemocracy https://t.co/l45pFTU1Zs
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 23, 2018
White House makes it clear: If you criticize Trump you lose your security clearance
— Sam Stein (@samstein) July 23, 2018
He knows that revoking a security clearance isn’t like waving one of those Men-in-Black memory wands, right? They’ll still remember all the treason you committed.
— david litt (@davidlitt) July 23, 2018
In addition to CNN, the other news networks claimed that revoking security access “could be seen as an act of political retaliation by the President against his critics.”