[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 139 (Tuesday, August 21, 2018)]
[Pages S5741-S5755]



                           Amendment No. 3761

  Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I rise to offer an amendment to the 
legislation we are working on that would make sure security clearances 
are revoked on a going-forward basis only for valid national security 
reasons--not to change the subject on a bad news day,

[[Page S5753]]

not to threaten career government employees, and especially not to 
carry out political retribution.
  Virginia is home to tens of thousands of dedicated men and women who 
serve in our intelligence and defense communities. Over the years, as 
Senator and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I have met 
literally thousands of FBI agents, CIA officers, military 
servicemembers, contractors, and other public servants who hold 
security clearances. These men and women work day in and day out, often 
thanklessly, to keep America safe.
  Do you know what? I have no idea, amongst those Americans who have 
those security clearances, which of them are Democrats and which of 
them are Republicans, and that is the way our system is supposed to 
  The Federal Government grants security clearances only to those 
individuals who can be trusted with our Nation's secrets. Applicants go 
through intense, lengthy background checks, interviews, and even, in 
many cases, lie detector tests, not to mention extensive rechecks for 
suitability every few years. Only then, after this process, do we allow 
them to serve in some of the toughest intelligence and national 
security jobs. We ask a great deal of these dedicated professionals, 
but what we don't ask about are their political views.
  Since the mid-1990s, the Code of Federal Regulations has governed the 
13 criteria under which personnel are deemed eligible or ineligible for 
security clearances and access to classified information. Amongst those 
13 reasons to actually get a security clearance or to lose a security 
clearance is included: allegiance to the United States, being subjected 
to foreign influence, financial considerations, and others. When you 
look through that list of 13--and I have it over here--none of those 
criteria includes political speech, nor should they. Our national 
security is too important to infect with political partisanship.
  I believe that more than ever, in light of the President's actions 
last week when this President revoked the clearance of former CIA 
Director Brennan and, equally important, if not more important, when he 
threatened to revoke the clearances of numerous former and even current 
national security professionals. These individuals collectively have 
hundreds of years of honorable service to our country under their 
belts. No one can seriously question their fitness or loyalty to this 
  Unfortunately, what we know--which is what happened last week and 
which, unfortunately, happens too many times out of this White House--
is that this is all about politics. According to media reports, White 
House officials have discussed how to issue the revocations on a going-
forward basis to other enumerated individuals to distract from bad news 
stories. I hope these reports of the White House's plans are mistaken.
  True or not, we need only listen to the President's words to know 
these efforts are politically motivated. I will admit I had missed the 
widely publicized press event at which the White House announced the 
President's ``enemies' list.'' Yet anyone who looks at this list will 
notice some common factors in that they all served in the previous 
administration, and in the time since, several have exercised their 
First Amendment right to criticize this President for his policies. 
Many of those on the list have also had some involvement in the 
investigation into Russia's assault on our democracy in 2016. For 
that--in many cases, for doing their jobs--they are now being punished 
or will be potentially punished by this President and this White House.
  In the President's own words, ``These people led it . . . so I think 
it's something that had to be done.''
  This is truly a dangerous precedent. For the first time since 
President Eisenhower created the security clearance process as we know 
it, the President of the United States is abusing one of his most 
important national security tools in order to punish his political 
opponents. As one of my friends on the other side of the aisle 
mentioned, it is something that would be more akin to something coming 
out of a banana republic.
  Perhaps even more troubling is the message this President is sending 
to those who are currently serving in government service. It is pretty 
clear he is sending a message that says to think twice before working 
on anything this President doesn't like, to think twice before you 
express a political opinion, even if it is in private. The White House 
broadcast this message loud and clear when it threatened to revoke the 
clearance of a midlevel employee at the Department of Justice.
  This is a clear attempt of intimidating others in the bureaucracy. If 
this President is successful in revoking this first wave of clearances, 
there is no question these actions will threaten the ongoing Russia 
investigation--an investigation that, again today, claimed two more 
guilty convictions, an investigation that has already resulted, prior 
to today, in 5 guilty pleas and 35 indictments. As I mentioned, today 
included the conviction of the President's campaign manager.
  Unfortunately, the President's actions don't just harm the 
individuals involved; these tactics threaten our national security 
institutions themselves. The Pentagon, the intelligence community, the 
FBI, the Department of Justice, and the rest of our national security 
structures depend on seasoned career professionals who do not act out 
of partisan motivations. Threatening their clearances--threatening 
their livelihoods and their families--is a clear attempt at undermining 
an ongoing, legitimate criminal investigation into what Russia did in 
2016. If successful, the President's actions threaten to politicize our 
national security institutions even more so than they have already 
  The President has significant authority as head of the executive 
branch, but there is widespread agreement that he should not be able to 
use these powers to get payback against Americans who criticize him. 
All of us in this body agree that no President should be able to order 
the IRS to audit political enemies, and we all agree no President 
should be able to order wiretaps against those who displease him. We 
should also all agree that a President should not have the power to 
remove clearances for reasons that have nothing to do with national 
security and certainly not because an individual expresses his or her 
right to free speech.
  I ask my colleagues to support the Warner amendment. I ask the 
majority leader to make sure this amendment gets a fair vote, up or 
down, on the floor of the Senate because I believe the Senate must take 
a stand against any attempts to punish political speech or to threaten 
our national security professionals by arbitrarily taking away their 
security clearances.
  We currently have in place real and prudent guidelines for issuing 
and revoking clearances, guidelines that are based on national security 
and not on political considerations. We cannot allow those to be 
supplemented by crass partisanship or attempts by this President to 
punish his enemies. We have come way too far from the dark days of 
Watergate to allow this type of attack against career professionals who 
have faithfully served our Nation with honor and dignity. We should 
demand better from this President. We can take that action by passing 
this amendment.
  I yield the floor.

[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 138 (Monday, August 20, 2018)] [Senate] [Pages S5721-S5731] TEXT OF AMENDMENTS [...] SA 3761. Mr. WARNER submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 3695 proposed by Mr. Shelby to the bill H.R. 6157, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: At the appropriate place in title VIII of division A, insert the following: Sec. ___. None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this division may be used to grant, deny, or revoke access, or eligibility for access, to classified information except in accordance with the processes and procedures under the following: (1) Executive Orders 12968 and 13467, as such Executive Orders were in effect on August 15, 2018. (2) Part 147 of title 32, Code of Federal Regulations, as such part was in effect on August 15, 2018. (3) Applicable department and agency regulations that govern access to classified information and due process requirements. ______