Sen. James Lankford Tuesday said he agrees with pulling security clearances away from several Obama-era intelligence officials, as they no longer need to have access to classified information.
“When you are out of the administration, there is no reason for you to get classified documents,” the Oklahoma Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” in response to calls from President Donald Trump, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and others to revoke clearances for former CIA Director John Brennan and others.
The argument has been that if there is an international issue, people in the current administration may want advice from their predecessors, said show co-host Bill Hemmer, but Lankford said there are ways around that.
“You could talk about the history of what’s been done in the past,” said Lankford. “I met with several folks on the list before to talk about what they did in the past, but they’ll often say I have not had any access to any information in the past year, year and a half and so I don’t know what has happened in the last year and a half but I can tell you historically.”
Further, just because a person has top secret clearance does not mean they have access to everything that is top secret, but just to the information they need to know.
Lankford also discussed the news that satellite images show North Korea may be dismantling a site where nuclear missile engines are built, saying he considers that a “partial good sign.”
“For them to dismantle some of the sites where they’ve done previous testing is a good thing but they’re solid rocket fuel,” said Lankford. “That’s the next generation of testing they have to do for solid rocket. That will be the next big sign to see as well as the returns from the remains of the Korean War and trying to be able to step away from actually having nuclear weapons at all.”
Lankford also is sponsoring new legislation, the Secure Election Act, which if passed would “clean up the mistakes of 2016.”
“The Obama administration had no engagement with the states at that time,” said Lankford. “He had the responsibility to engage with them through the Department of Homeland Security, but he wasn’t doing that.”
States pushed back on allowing federal presence, said Lankford, and the federal government was not getting security clearances to individuals in the states so they could get information to them warning them of a threat that Russia was trying to interfere in the election.
“We need to make changes for future elections, whether it’s North Korea, Russia, Iran, China or a domestic activist group,” he said. “We need clearances in the states and the ability to be able to see information so we can protect our elections but to reaffirm again the elections are run by the states, not by the federal government. But let’s help the states be able to do their job well.”
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