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As reported by Reuters, US President Donald Trump is threatening to pull the security clearance of key officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration as Trump lashes out against critics of the Trump-Putin summit outcome in Helsinki.

Key quotes

“The White House on Monday threatened to strip six former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, including Obama-era CIA director John Brennan, of their security clearances as President Donald Trump considers striking back at critics of his summit meeting last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The threat against Brennan and former senior U.S. officials James Comey, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Susan Rice and Andrew McCabe represented an extraordinary politicization of the U.S. government’s security clearance process.  White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump is “exploring the mechanisms” to remove the security clearances. Sanders said the officials have “politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances, making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia.”

After Trump gave credence following his summit in Helsinki to Putin’s denials about Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election despite findings by the American intelligence community, Brennan called Trump’s remarks “nothing short of treasonous.” In his July 16 Twitter post, Brennan added, “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”  Trump fired Comey as FBI director last year and he has become a prominent critic, calling Trump “morally unfit to be president.” Clapper, who stepped down as director of national intelligence before Trump took office last year, has accused the president of placing American democratic institutions “under assault.”

Hayden is a former director of the CIA and National Security Agency. Rice was former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. McCabe, who as the former No. 2 FBI official was involved in the agency’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March.  Many former U.S. officials retain their security clearances after they leave government service because they continue to advise their former agencies or because it is a condition of employment as government contractors or consultants. Stripping the clearances also represents a public rebuke of the officials and severs a connection with the intelligence community.