Editor's note: This story originally published on July 24.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday attempted to downplay President Donald Trump's threat to revoke security clearances of former national security officials who have criticized him, brushing it off as just "trolling."
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"I think he's trolling people honestly," the Wisconsin Republican said at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill.
Ryan says the issue is something in the purview of the executive branch, not Congress.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump is considering stripping a half-dozen former national security officials who served during the Obama administration of their security clearances, calling their public commentary about the ongoing Russia probe inappropriate.
The list of former officials under consideration includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, according to Sanders.
"They've politicized, and in some cases, monetized their public service," Sanders told reporters Monday. "Making baseless accusations of an improper relationship with Russia is inappropriate."
When they leave government, national security officials routinely maintain their security clearances, partly to consult with those who replace them about ongoing situations or issues. Officials also use their clearances to obtain high-paying consulting positions in the private sector.