Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe

Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE in an interview attributed his decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanNew book: Putin tried to reinforce Trump’s belief in a ‘deep state’ undermining him Retired admiral resigned from Pentagon advisory committee after writing open letter to Trump Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump MORE's security clearance to his role in early stages of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he considers Brennan and other former intelligence officials whose clearances he's considering revoking among the leaders of the investigation. 

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham. And these people led it!” Trump told the newspaper hours after it was announced Brennan's clearance was being revoked.

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“So I think it’s something that had to be done," he added.

Brennan served as CIA director under former President Obama, and was one of the officials who briefed Trump prior to his inauguration on evidence of Russian interference.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from Trump during Wednesday's press briefing that listed several other Obama-era intelligence officials whose clearances are under review.

The names included former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperNational security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war FBI memos detail ‘partisan axes,’ secret conflicts behind the Russia election meddling assessment Foreign hackers a legitimate concern for ballot machines, says cybersecurity expert MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWhy must everything Rosenstein be filled with drama?   Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Trump to meet with Rosenstein on Thursday MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline Yates NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation New Yorker disinvites Bannon from festival following backlash MORE, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Rosenstein heads to White House | Expects to be fired | Dems investigate second Kavanaugh allegation McCabe: Rosenstein firing would put Mueller probe at risk House Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday MORE, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.

“I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” Trump told the Journal. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.”

In response to Trump's announcement on Wednesday, Brennan suggested Trump is lashing out because he is feeling pressured by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation, which the president has deemed a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."

"Clearly, I think Mr. Trump is getting more and more concerned, more and more desperate, more and more frightened,” Brennan said on MSNBC.

Trump's decision to revoke Brennan's clearance was seen by many as an effort to hit back at one of the most vocal critics of his administration.

The stated reason for revoking Brennan's clearance was that the former CIA director was leveraging his status as a former government official to make “unfounded and outrageous” charges about the Trump administration.

“Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets and facilities, the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos,” Trump said in the statement read by Sanders.

Brennan regularly tears into Trump on Twitter, suggesting he lacks the decency to be president. He notably amounted Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to treason.