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

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Democrats offer fresh support for embattled Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has accused President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE of compiling a “Nixonian enemies list” by revoking former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanOnline and frighteningly real: 'A Taste of Armageddon' The biggest example of media malfeasance in 2020 is... Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community 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 ClapperThe biggest example of media malfeasance in 2020 is... Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community The new marshmallow media in the Biden era MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWray says FBI not systemically racist John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesBiden directs DOJ to phase out use of private prisons The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from chaotic downtown DC Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 BurrChamber of Commerce labels Biden removal of NLRB general counsel 'extreme' Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence 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 ManafortProsecutors drop effort to seize three Manafort properties after Trump pardon FBI offers 0K reward for Russian figure Kilimnik New York court rules Manafort can't be prosecuted by Manhattan DA MORE and allegations from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Manigault NewmanTanden seeks to defuse GOP tensions over tweets Juan Williams: The GOP's problem with women of color Trump administration sought to sue Omarosa after she announced tell-all book: report 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 CornynBottom line This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill 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