Trump to revoke clearance of Justice Department official in 'revenge' over wife's ties to notorious dossier
US President Donald Trump said he suspects he'll "very quickly" revoke the security clearance for a Justice Department official whose wife worked for the firm involved in producing a dossier on Trump's ties to Russia.
Signalling that his efforts to target clearances over his frustration with the Russia investigation were not over, Trump tweeted that it was a "disgrace" for Bruce Ohr to be in the Justice Department.
His comments came two days after he yanked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, saying he had to do "something" about the "rigged" federal probe of Russian election interference. Critics have cast it as an act of political vengeance.
Mr Ohr has come under Republican scrutiny for his contacts to Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS. The opposition research firm hired former British spy Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential campaign to compile the dossier on Mr Trump and his Russia ties.
Mr Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS during the campaign – something Mr Trump has tweeted about to highlight his assertions of political bias behind the Russia investigation.
Former US security officials yesterday issued scathing rebukes to Mr Trump for moving against Mr Brennan.
Mr Trump's admission that he acted out of frustration with the Russia probe underscored his willingness to use his executive power to fight back against an investigation he sees as a threat to his presidency.
Legal experts said the dispute may add to the evidence being reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Mr Brennan said Mr Trump's decision to deny him access to classified information was a desperate attempt to end Mueller's investigation.
Mr Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama and has become a vocal Trump critic, called Mr Trump's claims that he did not collude with Russia "hogwash."
The only question remaining is whether the collusion amounts to a "constituted criminally liable conspiracy", Mr Brennan wrote.
Later yesterday, the retired Navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden called Mr Trump's moves "McCarthy-era tactics".
Writing in The Washington Post, William H. McRaven said he would "consider it an honour" if Mr Trump would revoke his clearance, as well.
"Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation," <r McRaven wrote.
That was followed late yesterday by a joint letter from 15 former senior intelligence officials calling Mr Trump's action "ill-considered and unprecedented".
They said it "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 signees included seven former CIA directors, six former CIA deputy directors and two former national intelligence directors, James Clapper and retired Navy Admiral Denny Blair.
Mr Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden have appeared on a White House list of people who may also have their security clearances revoked.
Mr Trump on Wednesday openly tied his decision to strip Mr Brennan of his clearance – and threaten nearly a dozen other former and current officials – to the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with his campaign.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump again called the probe a "rigged witch hunt" and said "these people led it!"
"So I think it's something that had to be done," he said.