Three House democrats introduced a bill Aug. 24 that would prevent President Donald Trump from revoking security clearances for political purposes.
“President Trump has shown an alarming tendency to attack members of our intelligence and law enforcement communities when he believes it will be to his political benefit. His recent decision and subsequent threats to revoke the clearances of current and former national security officials is an unconscionable abuse of power, and it underscores the need to protect this process from further political influence,” said bill cosponsor Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.
“This legislation takes important steps to ensure security clearance decisions are based solely on national security considerations, not political bias or retribution.”
Trump drew the censure of many members of the intelligence community and Congress after revoking the security clearance of ex-CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal critic of the president, Aug. 15.
“Trump’s revocation of John Brennan’s security clearance is petty and vindictive. The president has made a sport of using his broad authority to help his friends and attack his perceived enemies. That’s why safeguarding our security clearance process is critical — we have to prevent these kinds of abuses and provide proper recourse for those impacted,” said cosponsor Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.
“Trump shouldn’t be playing games with our national security. I’m grateful to join Representatives Langevin and Schiff in introducing this bill, though I wish our president didn’t make it necessary.”
Trump also indicated that he was considering revoking the clearances of other frequent critics, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former national security advisor Susan Rice and former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
“President Trump has set a dangerous precedent by revoking or threatening to revoke the security clearances of current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials to punish his critics. For those who depend on a security clearance for their livelihood, this effort to create and impose potentially career ending consequences on individuals who appear on the president’s enemies list is unlawful and un-American,” said cosponsor Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Ca.
“In July, Speaker [Paul] Ryan suggested the president was simply ‘trolling’ in making threats — that is clearly not the case. The Congress must ensure that the process by which clearances are granted and revoked is governed by national security concerns, not politics or presidential temper tantrums.”
The text of the bill resembles an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill offered by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., earlier that week.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.