The concept of a “deep state” anti-Trump conspiracy among intelligence and law-enforcement officials has been a long-running theme of the Trump administration and the conservative media, repeated nearly nightly on Fox News’ opinion programs. On Monday, the White House acted on that impulse, threatening to revoke the security clearances of several former intelligence and law-enforcement officials who have been critical of the president.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president wanted to take away the clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden, former National-Security Adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI Director James Comey. The threat was the White House’s latest salvo in its long-running conflict with the intelligence community and law-enforcement officials who Trump has accused of cooking up false Russia-related accusations in order to delegitimize his election victory and presidency.
“Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during the press briefing—only the third such briefing in the month of July. “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances.” She accused the former officials of making “baseless” accusations about Trump’s connections with Russia.