President Donald Trump spoke to the Wall Street Journal after his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced he'd be revoking the security clearance of former CIA chief John Brennan. However, the reasons Sanders gave when announcing it during a briefing aren't lining up with the reasons Trump gave in the interview.
Trump directly related his reasoning for revoking the clearance of the 25 year veteran of the FBI to the Russia probe.
I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham, And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done.
Trump explains to WSJ why he acted against Brennan today and threatened the same for others: “I call it the rigged… https://t.co/Dp4qcH5940— Dafna Linzer (@Dafna Linzer)1534386016.0
Meanwhile, Press Secretary Sanders asserted at the briefing that the president's revocation was due to legitimate security concerns. Sanders read a statement from Donald Trump:
As the head of the executive branch and Commander-in-Chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The move came a day after Brennan fired back at Trump on Twitter for calling former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman a "crazed, crying lowlife" and "that dog":
It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you… https://t.co/GynMKAxPa6— John O. Brennan (@John O. Brennan)1534255708.0
With news of the revocation, Brennan still hasn't backed down nor does he have intentions to do so.
This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gra… https://t.co/IvJFRB4264— John O. Brennan (@John O. Brennan)1534365702.0
Brennan also published a scathing op-ed in which he calls the president's claims that there was no collusion "hogwash." He went on to say:
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. Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference — from Mr. Trump or anyone else — so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the president has been berating Brennan on Twitter.
“John Brennan is a stain on the Country, we deserve better than this.” Former Secret Service Agent and author of ne… https://t.co/4SFLobNbSz— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1534381241.0
Many say that his reasoning for revoking the clearance is nothing short of obstruction.
Trump’s astonishing public admission this week: he stripped Brennan of security clearance because of his role in th… https://t.co/x6Hes77y9U— Laurence Tribe (@Laurence Tribe)1534437261.0
Trump admits the he retaliated against Brennan for his role in the Russian investigation. This is both obstruction and witness tampering.— Maurice Ross (@Maurice Ross)1534435974.0
Author Kurt Eichenwald felt the same.
The former CIA head has security clearance revoked because he criticizes Trump. No better proof that Trump is an au… https://t.co/aLqj2XURFq— Kurt Eichenwald (@Kurt Eichenwald)1534360621.0
...now, of course, Brennan is going to be interviewed 10,000 times more often because trump has taken an unpreceden… https://t.co/XI4WZ86v5t— Kurt Eichenwald (@Kurt Eichenwald)1534360769.0
...so once again, just like with the firing of Comey for not kowtowing and accepting an obstruction of justice, Tru… https://t.co/iubsQIQMAx— Kurt Eichenwald (@Kurt Eichenwald)1534360853.0
The White House has also disclosed that the clearances of others the president considers foes may be on the chopping block as well.
In the statement announcing the revocation of Brennan's security clearance, the White House made clear that those who have moved to "highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks."
The statement continued:
Any access granted to our nation’s secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests. For this reason, I’ve also begun to review the more general question of the access to classified information by government officials. As part of this review, I am evaluating action with respect to the following individuals: James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.
All of those listed have been critics of the president. Notably, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates actually warned the president that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about his Russian relations and had become susceptible to blackmail. Yates was fired in January 2017 after refusing to defend an early iteration of Trump's travel ban.
Trump also is reviewing security clearances of James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice,… https://t.co/jeS38g02yj— Philip Rucker (@Philip Rucker)1534358354.0
So Trump wants to yank Sally Yates’ clearance because “national security.” Recall that Yates warned Trump about Mic… https://t.co/ycY2pzK8Zn— Radley Balko (@Radley Balko)1534360346.0
Trump move against John Brennan is unjustified- won’t silence him. Nor will his threats silence the others on his… https://t.co/Lw2fzgR67V— Eric Holder (@Eric Holder)1534389420.0
In adding John Brennan to his enemies list, Trump demonstrates again how deeply insecure and vindictive he is — two… https://t.co/qtRk7zsNcW— Adam Schiff (@Adam Schiff)1534361149.0
While the White House will surely defend the action as a necessary security measure, Trump's own words to the Wall Street Journal contradict that defense. So far, it doesn't seem likely that the move is going to lessen the criticisms of the administration at all.