As NewsBusters reported yesterday, ABC was in full panic mode after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that President Trump was seeking to revoke security clearances of top former Obama officials.
Instead of noting that distinction, however, ABC instead decided to call the handful of former Obama officials “some of Trump’s fiercest critics on his approach to Russia.”
“Critics call it a modern day enemies list,” Good Morning America’s chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran gushed to open his report. Moran suggested that Trump was using the presidency as a bully pulpit, warning he was “using his authority as president” to “target some of his fiercest critics.” ABC then replayed footage of the press conference yesterday where the announcement was made, highlighting Moran’s grandstanding exchange between himself and Sanders.
MORAN TO SANDERS: The President is threatening to punish Brennan and Comey and Clapper for saying things about him that he doesn't like. Is that presidential?
SARAH SANDERS: They've politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances and making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.
ABC also highlighted a silly question one reporter asked Sanders, if former President Obama and former Vice President Biden were next on the list of people who would lose their security privileges.
Moran concluded his report bemoaning the mud slinging happening between Trump and his critics as a “sign” of the “bad times” in Washington:
Supporters of President Trump had long been furious at Comey and Brennan and others and they point out it's a stark departure from American tradition for former intelligence and national security officials to be down in the partisan mud trashing the next president. You combine that with the president's retaliatory threat and, George, it's just a sign of the times here in Washington and many ways bad times.
Following that, anchor George Stephanopoulos asked legal analyst Dan Abrams about the situation. Abrams countered the White House’s reasoning for removing the security clearances, emphasizing that there was millions of Americans with security clearances who “regularly monetize their access” and that having one doesn’t mean you have an all access pass, there are additional steps involved. Abrams then berated Trump for doing this, calling the action “shameful:”
ABRAMS: Okay, so first let's say there are 4 million Americans who have security clearance, a lot of them are contractors, don't work for the government, they regularly monetize their access to having security clearance. And, remember, having security clearance doesn't mean you get access to secure information. What it means is you're part of the eligible pool of people who could get access. Then there's another step, when there's something specific you want to have access to, you then have to get authorization. So I think it's important to understand that context. The president has wide latitude when it comes to security clearance, typically the only thing the courts can get involved in is the process. How did he go about revoking it? What were the procedures put in place, et cetera, but with all that said, the idea that the president would be revoking security clearance not based on wrongdoing, just based on words is shameful.
GMA had a second report on the topic the following hour where Moran again characterized Trump’s actions as inappropriately harsh, calling it an “unprecedented” “threat” against his critics:
MORAN: This is the latest clash President Trump had with the intelligence community. He issuing this unprecedented threat of stripping clearances of half a dozen former intelligence officials, people who have been on the cable channels, the Sunday show, the op-ed pages ripping into President Trump especially on his relationship with Russia so this is the president fighting back. I asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about the implications of the president's threat. Listen in.
Moran ended his report by finally pointing out there were two sides to this issue, gushing that this was a new type of fight and “break with American tradition.” Stephanopoulos agreed, sighing and saying, “Almost nothing in this has a precedent.”