Outspoken GOP Senator Rand Paul publicly praised President Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance this week; saying the Obama official "participated in a shredding of constitutional rights".
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that if Brennan's conclusion that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians was based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, "it constitutes an intelligence breach".
Sen. Susan Collins, Republican from Maine, said she saw no grounds for revoking Brennan's security clearance, "unless there is disclosure of classified information, of which I'm unaware". "Security clearances for those who still have them may be revoked, and those who have already lost their security clearance may not be able to have it reinstated".
Also in the group: five former deputy directors of the CIA, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, whose name reportedly appeared on a White House list of ex-officials who may soon join Brennan in losing their security clearances.
In an opinion column published by The Washington Post on Thursday, retired US Navy admiral William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL and commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command, described Brennan as "one of the finest public servants".
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In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump again called the probe a "rigged witch hunt" and said "these people led it!"
Trump's admission that his extraordinary act of retribution against a former high-ranking official was tied to his frustration about the Russian Federation probe underscored his willingness to use his executive power to fight back against an investigation he sees as a threat to his presidency.
"So I think it's something that had to be done", he said.
However, in the NYT piece that Brennan wrote, he said that his clearance was a politically motivated "attempt to scare into silence" other critics of the President.
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Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, says Trump's move is a "stunning abuse of power".
And Brennan, she noted, is one of the key figures involved in briefing then-President-elect Trump on the Russian Federation investigation during the 2016-2017 transition. Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama, was one of the intelligence chiefs who signed off on the intelligence community's January 2017 assessment that Russian Federation interfered with the intent to help Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton. Instead, McRaven said that the president has "embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation".
"I think it is pretty clear this is a president who goes out of his way to punish his political adversaries".
Brennan has been deeply critical of Trump's conduct.
Democratic lawmakers blasted the president's move as risky.
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A spokesperson for Burr did not respond to a follow-up question about whether Brennan said or did anything before his clearance was revoked that led Burr to believe it should be revoked.