Warner warns Trump: Stop abusing security clearance process to punish critics

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of an amendment he introduced to the defense appropriations bill that would prohibit President Trump from abusing the security clearance process to punish his critics. In his speech, Sen. Warner warned against politicizing national security institutions by revoking security clearances solely for political purposes. 

“This is a truly dangerous precedent. For the first time since President Eisenhower created the security clearance process as we know it, the President of the United States is abusing one of our most important national security tools to punish his political opponents,” said Sen. Warner on the Senate floor. “But perhaps even more troubling is the message this President is sending to those currently in government service: Think twice before working on anything that this President doesn’t like. Think twice before you express a political opinion, even in private.”

This week, Sen. Warner offered an amendment to the defense appropriations bill currently under debate on the Senate floor prohibiting the use of federal funds to revoke an individual’s security clearance, except in accordance with Part 147 of title 32, Code of Federal Regulations, and Executive Orders 12968 and 13467 as in effect on August 15, 2018 – the day President Trump revoked John Brennan’s security clearance. Text of the amendment is available here. 

Sen. Warner also noted that this practice was a clear attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the ongoing criminal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which has already resulted in 5 guilty pleas and 35 indictments. He urged the Senate to “take a stand” against attempts to punish political speech or to threaten national security professionals by arbitrarily taking away their security clearances.  

“We currently have in place real and prudent guidelines for issuing and revoking clearances, guidelines that are based on national security and not on political considerations. We cannot allow those to be supplanted by crass partisanship or attempts to punish the President’s enemies. We have come too far from the days of Watergate to allow this type of partisan attack against career professionals who have faithfully served our nation with honor and dignity. We should demand better from our President,” said Sen. Warner.

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