Trump connects revoking Brennan's security clearance to Russia investigation

President Donald Trump drew a connection in a new interview between his decision to revoke former CIA Direct...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 11:53 AM

President Donald Trump drew a connection in a new interview between his decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance with his involvement in the investigation into Russian election interference.

The comments, published in an interview in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday night, are in contrast to the White House's claim earlier in the day that the decision was not politically motivated but based on a view that Brennan, a harsh Trump critic, posed a security risk. Trump's remarks also raise the question of whether he is retaliating against those who investigated whether his campaign colluded with Moscow during the 2016 election, something he has repeatedly denied.

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"I call it the rigged witch hunt, (it) is a sham. And these people led it!" Trump said in the interview, a full transcript of which was not immediately published by the newspaper. "So I think it's something that had to be done."

Trump cited Brennan as one of several national security officials he holds responsible for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference. Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama, was one of the intelligence chiefs who signed off on the intelligence community's January 2017 assessment that Russia interfered with the intent to help Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton.

Trump has cast doubt on the US intelligence community's assessment and whether Russia was behind the election meddling.

Trump's decision to revoke a former top intelligence chief's clearance marked an unprecedented use of a president's authority over the classification system to strike back at one of his prominent critics.

Brennan is the first former national security official to see his security clearance revoked since the White House announced last month that Trump was considering taking that action against Brennan and other vocal critics.

Others on the list include former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, and former FBI Director James Comey.

"I don't trust many of those people on that list," Trump said Wednesday. "I think that they're very duplicitous. I think they're not good people."

A White House official confirmed to CNN that the administration is looking at stripping additional security clearances. The official said the names White House press secretary Sarah Sanders gave from the podium on Tuesday -- former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA director and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official -- are an indication of the former officials who are at risk of losing their clearances in the coming days.

The Washington Post reported Thursday night that Trump made his decision on Brennan weeks ago and the reason for the Wednesday announcement was to distract from the release of former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman's new book. The book and Manigault Newman's subsequent promotional tour have caused headaches for the White House.

Trump thinks the decision to strip Brennan of his security clearance makes him look strong, according to the Post. Trump loathes the former CIA director and is frequently bothered by seeing him on TV, the Post reported.

Trump thinks the action he took against Brennan could be a possible model as he considers moving against other former intelligence officials who have criticized him, the Post reported.

The White House did not provide evidence that Brennan revealed national secrets or disclosed classified information, and did not immediately explain why Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was not among those whose access was being reviewed.

In an interview on CNN's "New Day" Thursday, Clapper called Trump's drawn connection from the Russia investigation to revoking Brennan's clearance a "candid admission" and "very disturbing."

"I find it very disturbing that here we were in compliance with a request of the then-President of the United States to put into one document our insight and knowledge of the profound threat that Russia posed to this country," Clapper said. "And now, apparently, we're being punished for this. John (Brennan) already has been."

CNN national security analyst Lisa Monaco, a former Obama Homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, echoed Clapper's remarks, saying on "New Day" that Trump's interview revealed "a stunningly candid and disturbing admission on the President's part."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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