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

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 top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has accused 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 of compiling a “Nixonian enemies list” by revoking 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 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.”


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 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 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 BurrTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas Graham: Mueller is going to be allowed to finish investigation 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 ManafortFormer White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report Mueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report Cohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump's dealings with Russia: report MORE and allegations from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanSales of political books up 25 percent in 2018: report Woodward book breaks 93-year publishing record Stormy Daniels announces new tell-all book: 'Full Disclosure' 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 CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford 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