Jake Tapper: Trump tying Brennan clearance to Russia probe is ‘connecting the dots’ for Mueller

CNN’s Jake Tapper said President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE is "connecting the dots" for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE in his latest statements about revoking former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanThe curious timeline for taking down Trump Brennan: Russian election interference 'changed the mind of at least one voter' Brennan responds to Trump tweet with advice for diplomats, intelligence agents and 'other courageous patriots' MORE’s security clearance.

“It’s almost as if the president is connecting the dots for Robert Mueller,” Tapper said on Thursday’s edition of CNN's “The Lead with Jake Tapper." 

Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he decided to pull the clearances of Brennan and consider those of other Obama-era intelligence officials who probed Russian interference in the 2016 election.


“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.

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

Tapper asked Thursday if Trump’s admission was opening “yet another door” for Mueller’s investigation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from the president earlier this week, saying Brennan lost his security clearance because he posed a security threat.

“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,” the statement read.

She then denied the move was meant to silence Brennan, who is an outspoken Trump critic.

“So despite the best efforts of the White House staff to act as if this decision was about protecting classified information, President Trump made it clear it was actually about punishing one of his fiercest critics,” Tapper said.

“It’s just the latest example of President Trump openly contradicting an explanation concocted, frankly, and then offered by his advisers,” the anchor continued.

For another example, Tapper pointed to when Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThere are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report Broadcast, cable news networks to preempt regular programming for Trump impeachment coverage MORE over the Russia probe after his advisers claimed it was over the mishandling of the Clinton email server investigation.

Brennan also blasted Trump’s move as a “abuse of power” meant to silence him.

“I do believe that Mr. Trump decided to take this action, as he's done with others, to try to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration,” Brennan said during an interview on MSNBC Thursday.