Republican lawmakers are attempting block presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from receiving classified information for the remainder of her presidential campaign. A new House bill is the latest effort to revoke Clinton's security clearance.
Outraged by FBI Director James Comey’s decision to not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, GOP lawmakers are making a concerted effort to deny her campaign intelligence briefings and to revoke her security clearance.
On July 6, Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, penned a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper urging him to block Clinton from receiving intelligence briefings, Fox News reports.
A precedent dating back to 1952 calls for both major party nominees to receive briefings from the intelligence community in the months leading up to the November election.
“There is no legal requirement for you to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information, and it would send the wrong signal to all those charged with safeguarding our nation’s secrets if you choose to provide her access to this information despite the FBI’s findings,” Ryan wrote.
On July 11, Clapper responded that presidential nominees receive intelligence briefings regardless of security clearance, adding that they are not given full access to confidential material.
“Accordingly, I do not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidates,” Clapper concluded.
Meanwhile, 10 Republicans in the Senate have signed a letter requesting that Secretary of State John Kerry deny Clinton or any of her top aides security clearances.
Senate Republicans have also introduced a bill that would bar Clinton and her team from receiving briefings that presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump would be treated to until the November election, Politico reports.
In the House, GOP lawmakers introduced legislation that would revoke Clinton’s security clearance. The bill has been dubbed the Taking Responsibility Using Secured Technologies Act, The Hill reports.
The legislation explicitly states that exercising carelessness serves as adequate grounds to be denied further classified information.
“While the FBI investigation is now closed and Clinton faces no criminal charges, Congress can act,” said Republican Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, who is co-sponsoring the TRUST Act.
Experts on security clearances are skeptical these GOP efforts will lead to any impact, many deeming the bills to be excessive.
“This is monumentally stupid political theater,” said lawyer Bradley Moss, who deals in security clearances. “There are already several provisions within the Adjudicative Guidelines pertaining to security clearance adjudications that address mishandling of classified information.”
Director Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy noted that lawmakers attempting to block Clinton’s security clearance are fighting a losing battle.
“Congress has a voice, but they don’t run it and they don’t control,” Aftergood said.
While GOP efforts to deny Clinton access to classified information would be in vain if she is elected president, their legislation could prevent the former secretary of state’s team from working at the White House.
Clinton aides Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills were all deemed to have been careless by Comey. If their security clearance is blocked, it would be difficult for any of them to serve in key administrative roles.
Security clearance lawyer Bill Savarino has stated that Clinton could use her presidential powers to override such a hurdle to allow Abedin, Sullivan and Mills to work in roles that receive classified information.
“If the president wants somebody cleared, somebody’s gonna get cleared,” Savarino said. “That’s just the bottom line.”