Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday for his decision to revoke former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanNew book: Putin tried to reinforce Trump’s belief in a ‘deep state’ undermining him Retired admiral resigned from Pentagon advisory committee after writing open letter to Trump Rand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump 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 CollinsGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Collins 'appalled' by Trump tweet about Kavanaugh accuser Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it 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 CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (R-Tenn.) also criticized the move, joining former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryRubio wants DOJ to find out if Kerry broke law by meeting with Iranians Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Pompeo doubles down on criticism of Kerry: The Iran deal failed, 'let it go' 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 JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills 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 WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ 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 ClapperFBI memos detail ‘partisan axes,’ secret conflicts behind the Russia election meddling assessment Foreign hackers a legitimate concern for ballot machines, says cybersecurity expert Dem strategist: 'Genuine concern' Russia will escalate interference efforts in 2018 MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump vows to get rid of 'stench' at DOJ, FBI House Judiciary on NY Times article: I intend to subpoena 'McCabe Memos' Hillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline Yates NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation New Yorker disinvites Bannon from festival following backlash 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 StabenowCongress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Trump attacks Dems on farm bill Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security 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 HollenSenate Dems to Trump: Reverse cuts to Palestinian aid Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law 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 KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash 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.