On Wednesday, August 15, in one of his most aggressive and egregious actions yet to hurt the Russian investigation, Trump stripped former CIA chief John Brennan of his security clearance.
Trump's attack against one of his most credible and outspoken critics, while an obvious move to intimidate all who dare to criticize him, was immediately further recognized as an attack on the Russian investigation itself.
This is the conclusion of all 3 major American newspapers - The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post.
The Wall Street Journal was the first national paper to link Trump's action to the Russian probe, based on Trump's own remarks to the newspaper. Trump's unsolicited confession to the Journal eerily mirrored his 2017 confession to the NBC newsman Lester Holt, when without provocation, Trump declared he had fired FBI chief James Comey because of the Russian investigation.
This is the Journal report of August 15th.
"WASHINGTON—President Trump drew a direct connec-tion between the special counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and his decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and review the clearances of several other former officials.
In an interview Wednes-day, Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has denied collusion, and Russia has denied interfer-ing.
Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Democratic administration of former President Obama and one of those who presented evidence to Mr. Trump shortly before his inauguration that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
"I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham," Mr. Trump said in an interview. "And these people led it!"
By Thursday, August 16th, The New York Times was also reporting that the Russian investigation was on Trump's mind when he removed Brennan's right to security clearance ( "Revoking Clearance, Trump Aims Presidential Power at Russia Inquiry" https://nyti.ms/2MQjuEE?smid=nytcore-ios-share):
“WASHINGTON — For more than a year, law enforcement officials have repeatedly rebuffed President Trump's efforts to use the power of his office to derail the Russia investigation. Stymied, Mr. Trump is lashing out in other ways against an investigation that he clearly hates or fears.
The president said Thursday that he revoked the security clearance of John O. Brennan, a former C.I.A. director, because Mr. Brennan had been part of what Mr. Trump has called the "sham" Russia investigation. That move, and the threats of more revocations, were the latest signs that the president seems determined to punish anyone connected to the Russia inquiry.
Law enforcement officials, lawmakers and members of the intelligence community expressed worry that the president's act of retaliation will have a potentially chilling effect on the United States' law enforcement and intelligence officers.
Anxiety about Mr. Trump's next move could give investigators pause as they pursue cases, and it might hamper recruitment of a new generation of agents, they said. The president's decision to follow through on his threats to revoke Mr. Brennan's security clearance, they said, sent a shudder through the spies and intelligence officials he used to lead."
By this morning, August 17th, The Washington Post reported there were more dangers ahead as Trump announced his future plans (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-gears-up-to-strip-more-clearances-from-officials-tied-to-russia-probe/2018/08/16/341fe418-a165-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.96ff827373bd), “Trump gears up to strip more clearances from officials tied to Russia investigation":
“President Trump said Friday that he plans "very quickly" to strip the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official he said is "a disgrace" who “is working for Mueller."
President Trump has told advisers that he is eager to strip more security clearances as part of an escalating attack against people who have criticized him or played a role in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, two White House officials said.
Over the past 19 months, Trump has fired or threatened to take action against nearly a dozen current and former officials associated with the inquiry, which he has labeled a "rigged witch hunt," including former FBI director James B. Comey, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. All three were dismissed.
Trump intensified his attacks this week by stripping former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance and announcing that others are under review. Brennan and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who is on Trump's review list, were among the Obama administration officials who briefed Trump before his inauguration on evidence of Russia's interference in the campaign."
After months in which his deranged tweets and orders against the Special Counsel and the investigation of the Russian interference in America's 2016 Presidential Election have failed to stop Mueller's team, Trump now seems to have embraced a new strategy - to strip security clearances from people who have played and play a role in the investigation.
Will even the Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as members of his investigative team be in Trump's sightline?
If Trump does what he says he will, he will both eviscerate the investigation and paralyze the Mueller team and their investigation.
Here is the take away from The Washington Post:
“To critics, Trump's moves echo President Richard Nixon's decision to force the abrupt firing of Watergate special counsel Archibald Cox.
"If you did all this in one day, it would have a 'Saturday night massacre' odor to it," Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution fellow who oversees the Lawfare Blog on national security issues, said referring to the 1973 move by Nixon that prompted resignations by the Justice Department's top two officials. "But you spread it out and get people used to the first one, then you do the second one — over a long period of time, it becomes the new normal."
. . .
This is the Constitutional Crisis we must all face. The evil man in the White House is destroying our democracy and obstructing justice before our eyes.
How will this end? Will the GOP stop him?
Will the American people?
August 1, 2018
In a striking rebuke, more than a dozen former top U.S. intelligence officials released a sharply-worded letter late Thursday describing Trump's decision earlier this week to revoke the clearance of former CIA director John Brennan as a blatant attempt to "stifle free speech" and send an "inappropriate and deeply regrettable" signal to other public servants. The signers — who served in Democratic and Republican administrations — called Trump's action "ill-considered."
Besides Gates, those signing the letter included former CIA directors William H. Webster, George J. Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael V. Hayden, Leon E. Panetta and David H. Petraeus; former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell.
"This action is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials," the letter says. "That signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable. Decisions on security clearances should be based on national security and not political views."
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," said the letter, whose signers include former CIA directors who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Robert M. Gates — who served as secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush — also signed the letter after it was first released late Thursday.Trump has indicated he also was considering revoking security clearances for other critics, including Clapper and Hayden, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, former FBI director James B. Comey, former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and Ohr. Several of them have said they no longer have clearances.s