Another reason Edelman cited for maintaining a security clearance hits a little closer to Rand Paul and the White House’s point that such clearance could be “monetized.” Former government officials who continue doing classified work for the government retain their security clearances, but not even all of that consultancy is compensated. That’s not the kind of work Paul and Sanders are discussing, though, when they talk about John Brennan, who is a paid analyst for NBC News and uses that platform to criticize the Trump administration.

It would be a big deal if Brennan, or any of the people on the White House list, had actually “divulged secrets” to the press based on their security clearance. But that would be a crime whether or not Brennan had an active security clearance. And any security clearances he or the other officials have (Comey and McCabe, apparently, no longer have them) would not allow them to access new or current classified information.