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James Clapper Blasts Trump Over Threat to Revoke His Security Clearance: ‘A Very, Very Petty Thing to Do’

During Monday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that President Donald Trump is looking into revoking security clearances for former intelligence officials who he believes have “politicized” their access.

“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,” Sanders said. “Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate, and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

One such official named by Sanders was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. In a phone call to CNN made immediately after Sanders concluded the briefing, Clapper forcefully claimed that it was not he who is playing politics with the clearance, but rather, the White House.

“I think it’s, off the top of my head, kind of a sad commentary,” Clapper said. “For political reasons, this is a petty way of retribution, I suppose, for speaking out against the president — which I think, on the part of all of us, are borne out of genuine concerns about President Trump.”

He added, “I think this is just a very, very petty thing to do.”

Clapper has been an extremely vocal critic of Trump. But the former DNI believes the act of revoking a security clearance over political disagreement crosses a line.

“There is a formal process for doing this, but, you know, I guess legally the president has that prerogative,” Clapper 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.”

In a tweet, former CIA director Michael Hayden — also on the list of former intelligence officials whose clearance is being threatened — suggested that he won’t tone down his Trump criticism based on this news.

Watch above, via CNN.

[featured image via screengrab]

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo