President Donald Trump may be doing special counsel Robert Mueller’s job for him, according to CNN.
After news of Trump stripping former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance hit the headlines, the White House offered an explanation for the maneuver, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issuing a statement, alleging that Brennan was fired over “wild outbursts on the internet and television,” and “conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary,” according to Vanity Fair.
It did not take long for the narrative to fall through. Less than 24 hours after Sanders’ statement, Trump told a reporter that Brennan was fired over ties to Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling.
“I think that whole – I call it the rigged witch hunt – is a sham. And these people led it! So I think it’s something that had to be done,” the president said, according to CNBC.
The firing prompted John Brennan to author a column for the New York Times, in which he called Donald Trump’s claims of not having colluded with the Russians “hogwash,” noting that his security clearance had been revoked because Trump wanted to silence him.
Further complicating the issue for President Trump, the Washington Post published a report detailing Trump’s deliberate moves against officials tied to the Russia investigation. Citing unnamed White House sources briefed on the matter, Washington Post alleged that Trump — having revoked Brennan’s security clearance — is eager to move against other Russia probe-tied officials, and that he has made a list of individuals he’d like to strip of clearances.
According to CNN, Donald Trump is considering revoking the clearances of at least nine former and current national security officials: James Clapper (former Director of National Intelligence), Michael Hayden (former CIA and NSA Director), Sally Yates (former Deputy Attorney General), Susan Rice (former National Security Adviser), James Comey (former FBI Director), Andrew McCabe (former Deputy FBI Director), Peter Strzok (former FBI agent), Lisa Page (former FBI attorney), and Bruce Ohr (DOJ official).
According to CNN‘s Jake Tapper, by stripping Brennan of his security clearance, and by compiling a list of officials he’d like to move against, Trump may have entrapped himself. The president may have connected the dots for Robert Mueller, showing that he had started a security clearance-revoking rampage, not because he wants to protect classified information, but because he wants to silence, and punish his critics, those tied to the Russia investigation in particular.
“It’s almost as if the president is connecting the dots for Robert Mueller,” Tapper said, according to The Hill, adding that “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.”