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

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community DOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT MORE is calling President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House 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 MaguireFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Trump taps new director for National Counterterrorism Center 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 SandersTop Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points GE employees urge company to use laid-off workers to make ventilators 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.