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

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanJournalism or partisanship? The media's mistakes of 2016 continue in 2020 Comey on Clinton tweet: 'I regret only being involved in the 2016 election' Ex-CIA Director Brennan questioned for 8 hours in Durham review of Russia probe MORE is calling President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 MaguireCongressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts Wells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones Hillicon Valley: Pompeo floats TikTok ban | Civil rights groups slam Facebook after call | Election security funding included in proposal 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 SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security 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.