Trump: Brennan led the 'rigged witch hunt'

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

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 11:45 AM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 11:45 AM

Thirteen former senior intelligence officials -- a list that includes officials who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents -- are denouncing President Donald Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance as "ill-considered" and "unprecedented."

"We all agree that the president's action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances -- and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech," the former senior intelligence officials, including former CIA directors, former CIA deputy directors, and a former director of national intelligence, said in a statement released Thursday.

They went on to argue, "We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case."

"Beyond that, this action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials," the former officials said, adding that the signal "is inappropriate and deeply regrettable."

The list originally included 12 officials, but overnight, former CIA director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates added himself to the list.

One of the signees, former director of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden told CNN's John Berman Friday on "New Day" that making the decision to sign the statement was not difficult.

"Using the security clearance process to punish a political opponent was simply inappropriate even though we admit that the president has absolute authority in this area," Hayden said. "It's just a bad thing to do for the health of the American republic and the health of American debate."

The former intelligence leaders added in their statement that "decisions on security clearances should be based on national security concerns and not political views."

They also defended Brennan's character and called allegations against Brennan of wrongdoing "baseless."

Hayden and James Clapper, another official on the statement and the former Director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama, are both included on a list of officials that the administration is considering stripping of security clearances. Both have been outspoken against Trump.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he was revoking Brennan's security clearance, first citing that the former CIA director posed a security risk. He later, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, connected Brennan's security clearance revocation with the Russia investigation, saying the probe was a "witch hunt" and "these people led it."

Asked about the intelligence officials' comments, Trump told reporters Friday that he's received a "tremendous response" after revoking Brennan's clearance and that "if anything, I'm giving them a bigger voice."

Brennan, who served under 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.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848137

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164052005
Mobile743681384
Madison53497738
Shelby38435371
Baldwin38195589
Tuscaloosa36152644
Montgomery34562782
Lee25655264
Calhoun22630520
Morgan22530411
Etowah20069520
Marshall18846318
Houston17777426
St. Clair16958359
Limestone16195220
Cullman16157306
Elmore15940295
Lauderdale15069307
Talladega14260302
DeKalb13083271
Walker12168380
Blount10779193
Autauga10560157
Jackson10214196
Coffee9435192
Colbert9366210
Dale9044192
Tallapoosa7285202
Russell710065
Chilton7090170
Covington6969197
Escambia6967144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5801142
Marion5437132
Dallas5302210
Pike5129109
Clarke485786
Lawrence4850130
Winston4793110
Geneva4655136
Bibb435795
Barbour370680
Butler3444101
Marengo342993
Monroe338366
Randolph337867
Pickens334890
Fayette331785
Henry321166
Cherokee320364
Hale319189
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252969
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141840
Sumter139841
Greene130545
Choctaw94428
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