Now Trump is outright threatening his critics — but even that won't silence them.
If Trump thinks stripping former top intelligence officers of their security clearances is going to silence their hardening criticism of him, he's got it all wrong.
"It's kind of a sad commentary where, for political reasons, this is kind of a petty way of retribution," former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN, just minutes after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Trump was thinking about denying security clearance access to a number of prominent critics, including Clapper.
He suggested the petty payback tactic won't have any effect on quieting him or others seasoned, career intelligence officials, since their criticism is "born out of genuine concerns about President Trump."
Clapper noted that when members of the intelligence community are stripped of their security clearance, it's usually because someone is under investigation for improper behavior.
The only thing that Clapper is guilty of is forcefully criticizing Trump for his reckless actions. Specifically, he's loudly denounced Trump's refusal to punish Russia for its attack on the 2016 elections, and for instead capitulating American national security to the Kremlin.
"I think that's a terrible precedent and is a very sad commentary," Clapper said of the security clearance threat. "And it's an abuse of the system."
The White House ignited the firestorm on Monday when Sanders said the administration was considering targeting several prominent critics, including Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
The White House's enemies list consists of targets who "have politicized and in some cases monetized their public service," according to Sanders.
"Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia is extremely inappropriate," she stressed. "The fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence."
The petty idea of stripping Trump critics of security clearances was hatched last week by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
"It’s terrifying to think that John Brennan still has access to any of this," Carlson announced hysterically. "Brennan is an out-of-the-closet extremist."
On Monday morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) publicly endorsed the idea of attacking Brennan.
"Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!" Paul tweeted.
Brennan emerged as a top target of the White House and Trump loyalists for his blunt criticism of Trump’s constant deference to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, especially following Trump's disastrous summit with Putin last week.
"Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous,” Brennan wrote on Twitter, and instantly introduced the idea of Trump "treason" into the mainstream political discussion.
As for clearances, “Former CIA directors typically hold on to their clearance for several years after leaving office in part so that they can share insights with current directors,” the Washington Post notes. Brennan retired from the CIA in January 2017.
Trump's latest vengeful ploy against his critics will do nothing to silence them.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.