"I know that I've gotten tremendous response from having done that because security clearances are very important to me - very, very important", Trump said in a brief session with reporters on the White House lawn. All of them have either sharply criticized Trump or are in the crosshairs of the president's congressional allies as they seek to cast doubt on the special counsel probe led by Robert Mueller III.
"Let him write his report", Trump said.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is challenging former CIA Director John Brennan's claim that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation. "So I think it's something that had to be done".
The White House said Wednesday that security clearances are under review for former U.S. National Intelligence director James Clapper, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, former Obama administration National Security advisor Susan Rice, former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Plus, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's fate lies in the hands of a deliberating jury.
The extreme action of revoking security clearances is one more instance of Donald Trump undertaking measures that no other president has done, leaving legal analysts in question about whether the action is actually within his authority.
Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, announced Friday on Twitter that he planned to introduce an amendment "to block the president from punishing and intimidating his critics by arbitrarily revoking security clearances".
"I think that whole - I call it the rigged witch hunt - is a sham".
"Our signatures below do not necessarily mean that we concur with the opinions expressed by former Director Brennan or the way in which he expressed them", it says. "For him to be in the Justice Department, and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace", Trump said.
A group of top former officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations called the revocation of Brennan's security clearance "unprecedented". Bottom row from left are former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper.
The former Central Intelligence Agency director took aim at Trump for his public call as a candidate in July 2016 for Russian Federation to help find missing emails of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, who was being scrutinized for having used a private email server while secretary of state.