House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that President Donald Trump was "trolling" people — "in all caps" — by threatening to strip as many as six former Obama administration intelligence officials of their security clearances because they have criticized his actions and policies.
"I think he is trolling people, honestly" the Wisconsin Republican told reporters at the Capitol. "In all caps."
"This is something that's in the purview of the executive branch" he added. "It's not in our purview."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Trump was investigating whether to revoke the credentials of the former Obama officials because "they've politicized and, in some cases, monetized their clearances."
Those who could be affected include CIA directors John Brennan and Michael Hayden; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Sanders also named FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last year, and his former No. 2, Andrew McCabe, who was dismissed in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But Comey said Monday that he no longer had access — and McCabe lost his clearance when he was fired, in accordance with FBI policy, a spokeswoman said.
The intelligence chiefs have attacked Trump's performance and policies, in many cases on CNN, since he took office last year.
Brennan, Clapper and Hayden also have served under Republican presidents, primarily George W. Bush, during their careers.
Some members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have attacked Trump's plans — but Ryan said the president had the authority to revoke the access.
"Some of the people have lost their clearances," the speaker told reporters. "Some people keep their clearances.
"I think he's just trolling people."
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