House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday dismissed a White House threat to strip security clearance from a handful of former national security and intelligence officials as “trolling,” which is what antagonistic children do on the internet when they’re trying provoke a reaction.
“I think he’s just trolling people, honestly,” Ryan said of the threat, which White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made Monday.
The threat is largely meaningless, since at least two of the people who Sanders named — former FBI director James Comey and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe — don’t even have security clearances. And the others are most certainly not receiving classified information from an administration they regularly criticize.
But Ryan’s suggesting that the idea isn’t meant to workable because it’s only meant to get under people’s skin. That’s not a groundbreaking claim. Trump’s been aiming to offend since he stepped off that escalator in 2015. But to have the House Speaker, a member of his own party, defending the president by comparing him to a 13-year-old on 4chan seems less than ideal.