White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took the news media to task Monday for frequently publishing classified information, which she said “put(s) national security at risk.”
During Monday’s news briefing, Sanders faced multiple questions about Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who resigned last week over allegations of domestic violence from two of his ex-wives. Porter has denied all of the accusations against him.
Until his resignation, Porter held an interim security clearance, causing some people to raise concerns over the White House’s process for giving clearances.
“Can you guarantee that you are protecting classified information given that you have someone like Rob Porter who didn’t have a permanent security clearance to access classified information?” a reporter asked Sanders on Monday.
In her response, Sanders turned the issue back on the media, noting that it’s reporters who are often guilty of publishing classified information that’s leaked from sources on Capitol Hill.
“I think we’re doing and taking every step we can to protect classified information,” she began. “I mean, frankly, if you guys have such concern with classified information, there’s plenty of it that’s leaked out of the Hill, that’s leaked out of other communities well beyond the White House walls.”
If reporters were really worried about this issue, she suggested that all they have to do is take a look around them.
“If you guys have real concerns about leaking out classified information, look around this room,” she said. “You guys are the ones that publish classified information and put national security at risk.”
“That doesn’t come from this White House.”
But Sanders wasn’t done. When faced with a question over whether the White House is putting national security in jeopardy, she emphasize that the administration of President Donald Trump does everything it can to protect American citizens.
“We take every precaution possible to protect classified information and certainly to protect national security,” she said. “It’s the president’s number-one priority, is protecting the citizens of this country. It’s why we spend every single day doing everything we can to do that.”
“And I think if anyone is publishing or putting out, publicly, classified information, it’s members of the press, not the White House.”
Sanders would not go into much detail regarding the security clearance process for aides working in the White House, instead indicating that this process is not handled by the White House itself.
“This is a process that doesn’t operate within the White House,” she said. “It’s handled by our law enforcement and intelligence community. And we support that process. It’s the same process that has been used for decades in previous administrations, and we’re relying on that process at this point.”
It’s up to those agencies, she said, to “determine if changes need to be made to their process.”
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