Top Senate Intel Dem: Trump compiling a 'Nixonian enemies list'

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Optimism grows that infrastructure deal will get to Biden's desk Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has accused President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE of compiling a “Nixonian enemies list” by revoking former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanUFOs are an intriguing science problem; Congress must act accordingly How transparency on UFOs can unite a deeply divided nation The world's most passionate UFO skeptic versus the government MORE's security clearance and threatening to do the same for other critics.

“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.”

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Trump announced in a statement read by his top spokeswoman at a press briefing 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 announced 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 ClapperDomestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSally Yates: I never thought that I'd be saying, 'Yeah, go Liz Cheney' ABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult MORE and former national security adviser Susan Rice.

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

He also warned that Trump may try to take this “broad-brush approach” to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE, who is investigating the president and his campaign for possible obstruction of justice and collusion with Russian agents during the 2016 election.

The Democrat called it a “warning shot across the bow of intelligence professionals.”

Warner is working with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.C.) on a parallel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

He suggested that Trump targeted Brennan this week to distract attention from the ongoing trial of his former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei Former bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job MORE and allegations from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Manigault NewmanJudge denies Omarosa Manigault Newman request to depose Trump, John Kelly in lawsuit Tanden seeks to defuse GOP tensions over tweets Juan Williams: The GOP's problem with women of color MORE that Trump used a racial slur.

“It’s curious that this list didn’t include people like General Flynn,” Warner noted, referring to former national security adviser Michael Flynn whom Trump fired last year after Flynn pleaded guilty about lying to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE (Texas), a fellow member of the Intelligence Committee, however, defended Trump’s decision Wednesday to revoke Brennan's clearance.

‪“It’s the president’s prerogative. I mean obviously the White House is the final arbiter of what sort of intelligence people get to see and unless there’s a national security reason for that to continue I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be revoked,” Cornyn said.

“There’s no right of a private citizen to get classified information,” he added.

The president said in his statement earlier Wednesday that he has a “unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information.”

But Warner noted that former senior intelligence officials have historically kept their security clearances so they can continue to provide guidance and expertise to current administrations.

“Oftentimes people draw upon — current intelligence officials, administration officials — draw upon that expertise and knowledge,” he said. “You want to have those assets because intelligence professionals have been consistently used after they retire from service.”

Jordain Carney contributed