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Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday for his decision to revoke former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanBrennan takes final shot at Trump: 'I leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap' The new marshmallow media in the Biden era New Defense chief signals potential troop drawdown: 'All wars must end' MORE’s security clearance.

Most Republican and Democratic lawmakers who balked at Trump’s treatment of Brennan argued that former senior intelligence officials can provide useful guidance to current leaders based on their past experiences, and for that reason should keep their clearances as long as they don’t improperly disclose information.

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But some Republicans who defended the president said Brennan's recent behavior has been inappropriate for someone with such clearance.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Brennan “has been far too political in his comments” as a recently retired CIA chief but said that Trump went too far. 

“Unless there was some disclosure of classified information of which I’m unaware, I don’t see the grounds for revoking his security clearance," she said, calling Trump’s decision “unwise."

Asked if she was worried about the precedent, Collins said, “I think it’s unwise because generally recently retired intelligence officials have a lot to contribute to the analysis that is being done.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' MORE (R-Tenn.) also criticized the move, joining former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBiden soars as leader of the free world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds MORE in describing it as a "banana republic" move.

"Without having some kind of tangible reasons for doing so, which there may be that I'm not aware of, I don't like it at all,” he said. 

“And it just feels like ... sort of banana republic kind of thing. But, again, there may be something I don't know. I don't like, I don't like it," he added. 

But some Republicans defended Trump and even argued that he should have pulled Brennan’s clearance months ago. 

“I’m surprised it didn’t occur earlier,” said Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.), who frequently defends the president. “I have no problem with it whatsoever.”

“I think the way he has conducted himself is inappropriate for a former CIA director,” he added. 

Brennan has publicly criticized Trump on multiple occasions. 

He told MSNBC anchor Brian Williams last month that he was “totally shocked” at Trump’s performance during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki. 

“I just found that it was outrageous,” he said.

On another occasion last month, he compared Trump to convicted Wall Street con man Bernie Madoff. 

“The two of you share a remarkably unethical ability to deceive & manipulate others, building Ponzi schemes to aggrandize yourselves,” he tweeted.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said Brennan deserved the penalty.

“He's acted like a butthead. He's acted like a political hack and not a national security professional," he said.

But Democrats were broadly outraged by Trump’s targeting of Brennan, which they see as a blatant effort to intimidate former intelligence officials into not criticizing him.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHarris shares Thanksgiving recipe: 'During difficult times I have always turned to cooking' Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Trump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin MORE (Va.), the senior Democrat on the Intelligence panel, accused Trump of compiling a “Nixonian enemies list.” The White House said Wednesday that Trump is considering revoking clearance for a number of other former officials.

“This is really bothersome. This is an attempt by this White House to shut up critics,” Warner told reporters.

Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that he would terminate Brennan’s security clearance because of what he called his “lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary.”

The president said he may also revoke clearances for other intelligence and law enforcement officials who served under former President Obama, including former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe new marshmallow media in the Biden era Will China get the foreign policy president it wants? Is America ready to return to the Obama-Biden foreign policy? MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon The new marshmallow media in the Biden era McCabe defends investigation of Trump before Senate committee: We had 'many reasons' MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Women set to take key roles in Biden administration MORE and former national security adviser Susan Rice.

“This was in effect almost an enemies list, a Nixonian enemies list,” Warner told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. “Revoking Brennan, threatening to revoke a series of others, trying to limit these Americans' First Amendment rights — it’s unprecedented.”

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Lobbying world Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  MORE (D-Mich.) said Trump is trying to intimidate his critics and called it “very dangerous.”

“That’s not who we are in a democracy. He doesn’t own that intelligence information. It’s not personal to him,” she said. “There’s no question that the president is trying to intimidate people.”

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.) compared Trump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is known for cracking down on critics and political opponents.

“This is another abuse of power of the president of the United States, punishing people who have different views than the president. This is something you would expect out of President Erdoğan or somebody else like that,” he said.

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Republicans start turning the page on Trump era MORE (I-Maine), another member of the Intelligence Committee, said security clearances should be revoked if people violate the law or disclose classified information.

“I don’t think opposition to the policies of the administration, or the Congress or a member of Congress or the president is a good reason to do so,” he said. “It sends a chilling message to members of the intelligence community that I think is unfortunate.”

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who represents a state Trump won by 28 points, called the move against Brennan “petty.”

Morgan Chalfant contributed.