Republican Sen. Rand Paul tweeted Monday that he asked President Donald Trump to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who criticized Trump’s performance last week at the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an unusual move, Paul wrote Monday morning that he would meet with Trump to discuss allegations that Brennan is “monetizing his security clearance” and “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media.” The Kentucky Republican added that he would ask Trump to revoke Brennan’s clearance.
Paul tweeted again Monday afternoon following his meeting with Trump, writing that he “restated to (Trump) what I have said in public,” and reiterating his earlier statements, while expanding them to include “other partisans.”
CNN has reached out to representatives for Brennan and has not yet received a response.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed in a press briefing Monday that Trump is considering stripping Brennan and a number of other former national security officials of their clearances.
Revoking security clearance as a means for retaliation for political criticism is unusual. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December to lying to investigators, maintained his security clearance during President Barack Obama’s administration after leading “Lock Her Up” chants at a Trump campaign event and also after Obama warned Trump against appointing him.
Former intelligence officials typically maintain high-level security clearances after they leave their posts – in some cases, they provide counsel to current officials during times of turnover.
Following the Helsinki summit, where Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, Brennan harshly condemned Trump’s performance at the news conference, calling it “nothing short of treasonous.”
In the wake of the summit, Paul has been a notable defender of Trump, breaking with members of his party by declining to criticize him and attributing the backlash to “partisan politics.”
Several House Republicans have accused Brennan of political bias and have suggested that his bias could have prevented him from being impartial in 2016. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said Sunday that the committee is planning on calling in Brennan to testify.
“This is an extremely disturbing thing to see both he and (former FBI Director) James Comey, supposedly impartial government officials carrying out their jobs in very important areas in intelligence gathering and law enforcement, express the kind of extreme bias that they’ve shown now,” Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said on Fox News. “which I think reflects quite accurately what they were doing back in 2016.”
Paul kept true to his stance on revoking Brennan’s security clearance in an interview with Martha MacCallum of Fox News on Monday evening, saying he was “concerned” about Brennan having privileges due to his past conduct in the CIA.
“I think there’s a great danger to having talking heads on TV that are ex-CIA agents and still have classified clearance,” Paul said. “There’s a real danger that they might inadvertently reveal classified information, and you know John Brennan’s got a history of this.”
In a statement to CNN later Monday evening, Paul said anyone who calls the President “treasonous” – as Brennan did – “is someone who is over the top” and lacks “the proper judgment to still have access to classified information.”
CNN’s Jenna McLaughlin and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.