Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded Monday to the news that the White House is considering revoking his security clearance, along with the clearances of other former intelligence officials who have been vocal critics of President Trump. He called the move “a petty thing to do.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president was “looking to take away [John] Brennan's security clearance, he's also looking into the security clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe.”
She explained that it was due to these former officials politicizing and monetizing their past service to make “baseless accusations” against the president.
“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, making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate,” she said. “And the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”
Clapper responded on a phone call with CNN, where he is a contributor, arguing that the security clearance was unrelated to how these officials feel about President Trump.
"The security clearance has nothing to do with how I, or any of us feel about the president,” he said. “And I don’t get the briefings, I don’t have access to any classified information."
He added that the clearance was a mere "courtesy" for former officials.
“There is a formal process for doing this, but, you know, I guess legally the president has that prerogative,” he said. “He can suspend or revoke clearances as he sees fit. And if he chooses to do it for political reasons, I think that’s a terrible precedent, and it’s a very sad commentary. And it’s an abuse of the system.”
"I don’t know what to say," he emphasized. "I think this is just a very, very petty - a petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it."