Wednesday, August 15, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said there were no political motives behind revoking the security clearances of his political enemies.

Today, Trump announced that he was revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan. He also said he was "reviewing" the clearances for nine others: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, and former deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr.

None of those targeted by Trump are accused of leaking or mishandling classified information.

Trump's statement explained that his motives weren't political, but that Brennan and others were too "partisan" to continue to hold their clearances. (The reason that former government employees keep their clearances is so that they can continue to assist the government as needed.) 

At a press briefing this afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked repeatedly why Trump was only targeting his political enemies. 

Q: Sarah, first, I’ve got a question I wanted to ask you. But first, just to follow up on that, it seems like everybody that you mentioned has been a political critic of the President. Is he going after his political opponents with this? 
In reality, every single person on that list has criticized Trump, using only non-classified information to do so, and every single person on that list has been personally attacked by Trump in turn. Many of them participated in the investigation into Russia's attempts to assist Trump by sabotaging the 2016 election.

More than four million Americans have security clearances, which are common job credentials for government-related work.

Why is this a problem?

  • Government employees who get security clearances swear an oath to defend the Constitution, not the president's political needs.
  • Using the powers of the government to punish your political opposition is what authoritarians do.
  • Refusing to give political enemies a security clearance is the definition of politicizing national security.