Although President Donald Trump has the final say on who has a security clearance, he is currently being advised on whose pass to revoke from members of the National Security Council, his legal team, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The White House revealed this information Wednesday, days after the president revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and suggested the clearances of other current and former government officials were on the proverbial chopping block.
Newsmax asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders who was reviewing the clearances in question with the president and noted that this was the first time a president personally handled the removal of security clearances.
Even in the last two major espionage cases of the Cold War—those of State Department officials Irvin Scarbeck in 1961 and Felix Bloch in 1990, it was the secretary of state and not the president who pulled their top secret security clearances.
“Certainly, the president has the constitutional authority to do so,” Sanders replied, “I know this will come as a shock to you, but I’m not aware of the details of those specific cases that you outlined. But the president has the authority to make that decision.”
She added, “He’s also consulting with members of his national security team and members of his legal team here at the White House to make those decisions.”
Pressed by NBC’s White House Correspondent Kristen Welker on who is advising the president, Sanders told her, “ I know that the [White House] Chief of Staff [John Kelly] is involved in that process.”
The president’s top spokeswoman appears on solid ground in saying the president has the authority to revoke security clearances. In a recent interview with USA Today, Mark Zaid, a Washington, D.C., -based national security lawyer said “[a]s the commander-in-chief, he is the arbiter of all things related to classified information.”
But Zaid quickly added he was “not aware of any presidents who have gotten involved in security-clearance matters. That authority is usually delegated to the heads of agencies.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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