Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe

Trump ties revoking Brennan clearance to Russia probe
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President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE in an interview attributed his decision to revoke ex-CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanUFOs are an intriguing science problem; Congress must act accordingly How transparency on UFOs can unite a deeply divided nation The world's most passionate UFO skeptic versus the government 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 ClapperDomestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSally Yates: I never thought that I'd be saying, 'Yeah, go Liz Cheney' ABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult MORE, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Carter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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.