Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday for his decision to revoke former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanWhere was American counterintelligence? Krystal Ball: Yang's MSNBC boycott shows network has 'officially lost the left' Trump predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump 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 CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.) also criticized the move, joining former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryUN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest' Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: 'scathing indictment' Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill 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 scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Hillicon Valley: Twitter to start verifying 2020 primary candidates | FTC reportedly weighs injunction over Facebook apps | Bill would give DHS cyber unit subpoena powers | FCC moves to designate 988 as suicide-prevention hotline Senate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal 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 WarnerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Watchdog report finds FBI not motivated by political bias in Trump probe Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat 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 predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' The curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Judiciary Democrats approve articles of impeachment setting up House vote next week Huckabee teases Hannity appearance, says he'll explain why Trump is eligible for third term Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesBiden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate Merriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter Sally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' 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 StabenowBoth sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial GOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat Overnight Energy: EPA delays board's review of 'secret science' rules | Keystone pipeline spill affecting more land than thought | Dems seek probe into Forest Service grants tied to Alaska logging 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 HollenOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling 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 KingHillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Legislation to protect electric grid from cyberattacks added to massive defense bill Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech 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.