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President's Power to Revoke Security Clearances is Constitutional

August 4, 2018

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, July 23, 2018, that Trump is looking into the clearances of former security officers.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, July 23, 2018, that Trump is looking into the clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden under President G.W. Bush.

According to Sanders: “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."  McCabe was investigating the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns while his wife, a candidate for office, was accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from friends of Hillary Clinton.  It is obvious that when individuals with security clearances have very vocal differences with the president, it wrongly gives authority to their claims.

About CIA Director John Brennan and ex-FBI Director James Comey, Sanders had this to say:  "These officials have made 'baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia'" and that their clearance offers 'inappropriate' legitimacy.

Sean Hannity interacts with Joe diGenova

Last week, former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova told the Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that Brennan is responsible for the sharing of false information about Trump and Russia with American intelligence agencies.

Hannity said he thinks Brennan knew all about the Democrat-funded “dossier” of unproven claims about Trump that was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign and helped prompt the special counsel investigation, to which diGenova responded:

"John Brennan is a traitor and I will tell you why. He is the real traitor. What he did and what he has had recently about the president of the United States is despicable."    Brennan now gets paid as an analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

Senator Rand Paul and his role

Sanders’ July 24th announcement came only hours after Sen. Rand, R-Ky., said he would meet with the president and ask him to remove Brennan’s clearance based on Brennan accusing the president of treason.  Rand Paul on Twitter:

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance.  Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on Donald Trump." his security clearance?  Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream with his attacks of [Donald Trump]?”

The senator just days earlier raised questions about Brennan’s security clearance

At the time, Paul said, “If he has top-secret clearance as unhinged as he is now, he’s calling the president treasonous, saying he is for the death penalty of the president, this is alarming.”

Democrat response to Sander's announcement

After the announcement by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Democrats acted in their typical unhinged way toward anything Trump purposes.  Nancy Pelosi and other of her colleagues slammed President Trump for considering revoking securing clearance for mostly top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials.  Said Nancy Pelosi:

“This is so extraordinary. The last thing you want in intelligence is partisanship, and we were able to avoid that for such a long time.”

The above was said as Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers introduced a resolution condemning Trump's statements during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Not to be undone, California representative Adam Schiff called Trump's consideration as 'cowardly action' of someone who's afraid of critics.

Republican swamp dwellers join Democrats

But is wasn't only Democrats who rebuffed President Trump for even thinking about reducing security clearances.  The ever predictable Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, who as part of the Republican establishment and Washington D.C. swamp has never embraced the Trump agenda to Make America Great Again,but instead is part of the Trump resistance, accused Trump  on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 when talking to NBC News' Kasie Hunt of “trolling” people with his threat to revoke the security clearances from former top national security officials who have criticized him and his policies.

Two other establishment Republicans likewise followed in Ryan's footsteps.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn. told MSNBC's Garrett Haake on Tuesday, July 24th, that he couldn’t believe that the White House “thought seriously” about pulling the security clearances of former Obama-era staff because they criticized the president recently.  Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. had this to say:

“I'd like to see the reason. Did someone breach protocol in terms of classified material, or break a law, then it would certainly be appropriate. If it's not, it would just look to be just kind of political retribution.”

John and Andy Schlafly, sons of the late Phyllis Schlafly, add their thoughts

Read here an excerpt from the weekly 07-25-2018 commentary, Revoke the Deep State’s Security Clearances by John and Andrew Schlafly, which details why six former security officials, all part of the Obama's Resistance Movement, should have their security clearance removed as participating members of the shadow government referred to as the Deep State.

"Sarah Huckabee Sanders, our wonderful White House Press Secretary, sent liberals into a tizzy on Monday with her announcement that President Trump is considering revoking the security clearances of several Deep State leaders.  John Brennan, a liberal mouthpiece who became Obama’s CIA director after having once voted for the Communist Party for president, would be among the first to lose his security clearance.

Oh my.  The Left has not panicked so much since the 2016 Election Night returns put Donald Trump into the White House.

Another candidate for revocation is Susan Rice, who was Obama’s national security adviser thought to have improperly obtained the identity of General Michael Flynn on a wiretap.  The since-replaced national security adviser H.R. McMaster allowed Rice to retain her security clearance, waiving the customary “need-to-know” requirement to allow Rice unlimited access to anything she ever reviewed or received when in office.

In addition to Brennan and Rice, revocation is being considered for the discredited FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, the former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, and the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.  It was Clapper who famously lied under oath to Congress about his secret surveillance program of Americans.

Sanders is precisely right that “the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”  Those who repeatedly make false accusations against our Commander-in-Chief are unfit to be trusted with confidential information about our national security.

The Never-Trumpers will always enjoy their First Amendment rights, but they should not have access to our national secrets while they are writing books and profiting from their irresponsible, false claims about our president.  Some of them respond by saying their ability to see classified information has already been terminated, but those security clearances could be easily reinstated unless Trump revokes them.

Americans voted for a new direction for our country under President Trump, in repudiation of the path that Obama was taking us, so why are the losers still around pretending to speak with authority?  Many Americans are probably wondering why the security clearances of these acolytes of Obama were not fully revoked long ago.

Tossing out the entrenched insiders who are so determined to defeat President Trump requires, at a minimum, taking away the special authority they unjustifiably continue to enjoy.  John Brennan and James Clapper would still be able to pontificate all they like on television, but they should not be able to do so with the implied authority of an active security clearance."

President's Constitutional authority to revoke security clearances

As to why an individual might need to keep their security clearance after their time of service 1) If the person is actively involved in the present government or 2) if advise is requested by the current administration.  With the latter, the individual can be issued a security clearance on a temporary basis.

Here is what Lindy Kyzer, editor of ClearanceJobs and a former Defense Department employee wrote regarding the ability  of the president to revoke security clearances: .

As stated by Sean Bigley, national security attorney and managing partner at Bigley Ranisy: “Per longstanding Supreme Court precedent, the president’s authority over security clearance matters is both constitutional and polenary."

While there is no precedent for a president making a unilateral decision to revoke a former official’s security clearance, former officials have previously been accused of inappropriately maintaining access to classified information following their government employment.

Former CIA Director John Deutch, who served during the Clinton administration, was found to have several incorrectly labeled laptop computers containing classified information in his possession after he was ousted from the agency. Then Attorney General Janet Reno required an investigation into Deutch’s security clearance, and recommended revocation. Deutch pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling government secrets. He was later pardoned by Clinton.

[Originally Published at Illinois Review]

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Government & Politics
Author
Nancy J. Thorner is a writer, cellist, and Tea Party activist based in suburban Chicago.
media@heartland.org @nancycello1