WASHINGTON — Republican senators have introduced legislation to revoke former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security clearance just as the presidential candidates head toward their campaign-season intelligence briefings.
Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who has long called for a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton’s use of a private email server, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the Taking Responsibility Using Secured Technologies (TRUST) Act of 2016, which has nine additional co-sponsors.
The bill would revoke not only Clinton’s security clearance, but the clearance of those at the State Department deemed to have been, in FBI Director James Comey’s description of the emails, “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.
The full text of the legislation hasn’t been released, but Gardner’s office said Clinton’s access would only be restored under the bill when she “earns the legal right.”
“The FBI’s investigation into Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail server confirmed what Americans across the country already know: Secretary Clinton recklessly accessed classified information on an insecure system – establishing a vulnerable and highly desirable target for foreign hackers,” said Gardner. “If the FBI won’t recommend action based on its findings, Congress will. At the very least, Secretary Clinton should not have access to classified information and our bill makes sure of it.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Wednesday that GOP lawmakers were hoping the Obama administration would limit Clinton’s access to classified information, but they were also looking into how Congress could cut off her access.
“Access to classified information is a tremendous responsibility, and should only be entrusted to those who will treat that information with the care it deserves,” Cornyn said in a statement. “When individuals mishandle our country’s most sensitive information they jeopardize national security and shouldn’t be trusted with such an important responsibility.”
Gardner and Cornyn, along with Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking that Clinton, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and other former State Department employees have the clearances revoked for security violations if they still maintain them.
“There is simply no excuse for Hillary Clinton’s decision to set up a home-cooked email system which left sensitive and classified national security information vulnerable to theft and exploitation by America’s enemies. Her actions were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk,” the senators wrote.
“Failure to impose any sanctions for these clear violations of State Department procedure undermines the integrity of the State Department’s system for handling classified information and sends the wrong message to the Department’s employees.”