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Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community

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 is calling 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's shakeup in the intelligence community a "virtual decapitation," saying the changes are a "tremendous concern."

"Two nonpartisan national security professionals have been removed at the helm of the intelligence community: Joe Maguire and then Andrew Hallman," Brennan said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday. "That is a virtual decapitation of the intelligence community."

His comments come after Trump ousted acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts MORE and installed German ambassador Richard Grenell as his new acting intel chief.

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Grenell has begun making immediate changes in his new role, including saying the No. 2 official in the Director of National Intelligence office, Andrew Hallman, was no longer needed.

The shakeup comes after reports that Trump was frustrated with Maguire and alleged his disloyalty after House lawmakers were briefed last week on Russian interference in the 2020 election to help reelect Trump.

Brennan, a vocal Trump critic who served under former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, has joined others, most notably top Democrats, in criticizing the latest shakeup.

"And now who is going in there? Someone who has no experience, no credentials as far as the intelligence community is concerned, Richard Grenell," he said Friday. "The intelligence professionals can only see this as another example that they are not being allowed to do their job."

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Brennan added that he hopes intelligence professionals "continue to do their best ... despite the headwinds that they are feeling coming from the White House."

Trump has since denied the reports Russia is interfering on his behalf in the 2020 election, accusing Democrats of "trying to start a rumor" as well as a "disinformation campaign."

On Friday, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief Murkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE (I-Vt.) confirmed that U.S. intelligence officials briefed him about Russian attempts to interfere in the election, with The Washington Post reporting that the effort was aimed at helping his campaign.