Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe

Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE in an interview attributed his decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFederal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report FISA court's rebuke of the FBI: It broke or ignored the rules and our rights Where was American counterintelligence? 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 ClapperTrump predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' The curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesRod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm Biden would consider Republican for VP 'but I can't think of one right now' Biden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate MORE, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeMcCabe accuses Trump officials of withholding evidence in lawsuit over firing McCabe: Being accused of treason by Trump 'quite honestly terrifying' Horowitz report is damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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.