Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday for his decision to revoke former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller 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 CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote 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 CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) also criticized the move, joining former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryKerry urges China and India to step up on climate change in WaPo op-ed Sunday shows - Trump's Ukraine call, Iran dominate Kerry: 'One way or the other' Iran was responsible for Saudi attack 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 JohnsonTrump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Republicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years 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 WarnerOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit 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 ClapperTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime We've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesMerriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter Sally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Trump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation 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 StabenowRepublicans to hand out 'baseball cards' mocking Gary Peters in Michigan Senate Democrats accuse administration of burying climate change reports Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' 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 HollenProgressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum Senators pressure Trump to help end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir Democratic candidates are building momentum for a National Climate Bank 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 Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year 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.