The subject of making money off of government security clearances proved too hot to handle on Friday, when CNN analyst and ex-CIA official Phillip Mudd erupted at conservative commentator Paris Dennard, who said clearances were a gateway to making money for former government officials.
That point was made last month by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she discussed President Donald Trump’s plan to review clearances, and whether they were being misused.
“The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because (some holders) politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances,” Sanders said, according to The New York Times.
On Aug. 15, Trump revoked the clearance of former CIA chief John Brennan, a persistent critic of the president. Brennan has said he will fight Trump’s revocation of his clearance, Fox News has reported.
With that as the background, Dennard on Friday came on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and called for clearances to be taken away from those who profit from them, Independent Journal Review reported.
“A lot of these people that have these security clearances, and this is the secret in the swampy Washington, D.C., they have them and they keep them because it’s profitable for them after they leave government, because if you a security clearance, especially high level security clearance, your contracts and consulting gig pay you a lot more money because of the access that you have. I hope the president continues to do this, and I hope he adds Omarosa (Manigault Newma) to the list, because if she has a clearance, she too because of her actions should have it revoked,” Dennard said, according to Breitbart.
Mudd was in the red zone almost immediately.
“Profitable, Paris?” said Mudd. “When I am required to sit on an advisory board, let me ask you one question, how much do you think I’m paid to do that at the request of the U.S. government? Give me one answer, and you’ve got 10 seconds? How much?”
Dennard said whatever the names, the end result was the same — money for former officials.
“Consultant and a contractor, the consulting firms that they form and you all get is because you get more money when having a consultant — for having the security clearance,” said Dennard. “Stop acting like that doesn’t happen.”
Mudd then grew angrier
“That is incorrect. I have zero consulting relationships with the U.S. government. Zero,” he said.
When Dennard tried to explain that he was talking about the private sector, Mudd cut him off.
“I have zero relationships with the private sector that involve my security clearance. Zero. Zero. I get zero dollars from consulting companies that deal with the U.S. government. Are we clear?” Mudd said.
Dennard refused to be silenced or swayed.
“Well, he will be clear in saying that everybody in Washington, D.C. knows — if you don’t want to be honest about it, that’s on you — but if you have a security clearance and you keep it, you get more money to have it,” he said.
That was too much for Mudd.
“We’re done. We’re done. Get out!” he said, repeating his demand for Dennard to leave when Dennard, who eventually got the last word, said he would not go.
“Don’t be so defensive about this,” Dennard told Mudd. “Your voice is still here. You can still do whatever you want. But the politicalization of the intelligence community under this administration with the people coming on here every day tweeting and talking about this administration, you all have made it about politics, not the president.”
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