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

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Google sparks new privacy fears over health care data MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE of compiling a “Nixonian enemies list” by revoking former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction The curious timeline for taking down Trump Brennan: Russian election interference 'changed the mind of at least one voter' 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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 curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward Schiff: Barr 'weaponizing' DOJ 'to go after the president's enemies' MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyChris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' Day one impeachment hearings draw 13.1M viewers, down 32 percent from Comey hearings There are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra MORE, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesMerriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter Sally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Trump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation 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) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' 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 BurrNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Saagar Enjeti claims Pelosi's impeachment strategy could hurt 2020 Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi accuses Trump of 'bribery' in Ukraine dealings 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 ManafortGates sentencing set for next month Yovanovitch says John Solomon's columns were used to push false allegations Trump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction MORE and allegations from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanAuthor of anonymous 'resistance' NYT op-ed to publish book Juan Williams: Black Republicans call out Trump — finally — on race Michael Cohen denies Omarosa advising him in prison 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 CornynGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Overnight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges 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