On Wednesday, Trump claimed that he revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance partly because of Brennan’s role in the Russia investigation.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump discussed Brennan’s ties to the Russia investigation. “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” he said. “And these people led it!” He went on to say “So I think it’s something that had to be done,” in reference to revoking Brennan’s security clearance.
Brennan was involved in the beginnings of the Russia investigation. During his time as the CIA director under the Obama administration, he was involved in a meeting that took place with Trump at Trump Tower just days before the 2016 election. At the meeting, intelligence officials first briefed Trump about evidence they had found that revealed the Russian government had attempted to interfere the election.
On Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the names of other intelligence officials who worked under the Obama administration and whose security clearances are “under review.” The former officials include former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
Trump claimed, “I don’t trust many of those people on that list. I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.” This claim is similar to the ridiculous list he released on Wednesday, which detailed his reasons for revoking Brennan’s security clearance.
Sound like anyone we know?
In a New York Times op-ed published on Thursday, Brennan bashed Trump for his statements. He went on to criticize Trump’s act of revoking his security clearance as “politically motivated.” He wrote:
Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him. Which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him.
Trump’s recent actions have received polarizing opinions from the GOP and backlash from the Democrats. Some Republican lawmakers are concerned about the precedent Trump’s move could set, while others support the decision. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) said, “Without having some kind of tangible reasons for doing so, which there may be that I’m not aware of, I don’t like it at all. It just feels like sort of a … banana republic kind of thing.” On the other side of the GOP argument, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called Trump’s move “entirely appropriate.” Across the aisle, Secretary of State John Carrey said Trump has put “personal petty politics ahead of patriotism and national security.”
Despite Trump’s claims that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt,” the probe has already produced numerous indictments of Russian nationals and former Trump campaign officials. In Brennan’s NYT op-ed, he said, “Russian denials are, in a word, hogwash.” Trump’s act of revoking Brennan’s security clearance reveals his increasing fear over the investigation.
Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him.
However, no matter how many former officials he threatens, Trump won’t be able to stop special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.