President Trump says that although he has never obstructed justice in the Russia investigation, he does “fight back.”
And, as of Wednesday, he had “fought back” against a majority of top officials involved in leading, overseeing or making administration decisions about that probe. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, of the more than a dozen officials with what could be construed as leadership roles in the investigation, more than half have been fired and/or threatened with official recourse.
The most recent examples were the White House’s revocation of former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance Wednesday and the threats to do the same for nine other current and former officials who have run afoul of Trump. In one fell swoop, the White House effectively more than doubled its enemies list — and served notice that ex-officials who were involved in the probe will not be permitted to criticize Trump willy-nilly.
Not all the firings have come directly from Trump or relate directly to the probe; FBI officials Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, for instance, were terminated by the bureau after highly critical inspector-general reports, and former acting attorney general Sally Yates refused to defend Trump’s travel ban in court. But Trump has targeted all of them, and all three also saw their security clearances threatened Wednesday (even as McCabe and Strzok don’t appear to have them anymore).
Here’s a rundown:
Loretta E. Lynch: Has not been criticized by Trump for Russia investigation but has been for Clinton investigation
Sally Yates (acting): Fired for refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban, security clearance threatened
Jeff Sessions: Threatened with firing or being forced out via tweets and private comments
Rod J. Rosenstein (acting for Russia investigation in light of Sessions’s recusal): Threatened repeatedly
James B. Comey: Fired, security clearance threatened (despite apparently not having one)
Andrew McCabe: Fired for issues unrelated to Russia probe (with Trump’s approval and after strong Trump criticisms), security clearance threatened
Leading Russia probe
Peter Strzok (as top FBI counterintelligence official): Fired for issues unrelated to Russia probe, security clearance threatened
Robert S. Mueller III (as special counsel): Threatened with firing, which Trump reportedly attempted twice
John Brennan: Security clearance revoked
Mike Pompeo: Trump ally who later became secretary of state
Director of national intelligence
James R. Clapper Jr.: Security clearance threatened
National security adviser
Susan E. Rice: Security clearance threatened
Michael Flynn: Fired for issues unrelated to Russia probe
H.R. McMaster: While officially a resignation, Trump essentially fired McMaster in March after repeatedly publicly embarrassing him and a month after Trump bristled when McMaster said evidence of Russian interference was “incontrovertible"