Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe

Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE in an interview attributed his decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea Intel agencies' threat assessment matters more than tiff 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 ClapperIntelligence chiefs should be commended, despite Trump's attacks on them Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ Trump has publicly criticized Russia probe more than 1,100 times: NY Times MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesFrom border to Mueller, Barr faces challenges as attorney general Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security House Intel panel votes to release Russia interview transcripts to Mueller MORE, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ 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.