Donald Trump is considering revoking security clearances for six top former intelligence and national security officials from the Obama era who have been publicly critical of him, the White House said.
The individuals included James Comey, the former FBI Director, and John Brennan, the former CIA Director.
Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, accused them of "politicising and in some cases monetising their public service and security clearances" to make "baseless accusations" against the president.
Former intelligence officials usually keep their security clearance but rarely use it, sometimes providing advice to successors.
James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, who was among the six, said: "This is just a very, very petty thing to do.
"The president has that prerogative, but if he chooses to do it for political reasons I think that’s a terrible precedent. It’s petty retribution for speaking out against the president."
Mrs Sanders said Mr Trump was "exploring the mechanisms" to strip clearance from the former officials.
Hours before the announcement Rand Paul, the Republican senator, had said he intended to raise the issue of revoking Mr Brennan’s clearance at a meeting with Mr Trump.
Last week, Mr Brennan described Mr Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, as "nothing short of treasonous".