Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for “politicizing” the intelligence community by going to the Washington media public with a letter about personnel change concerns.
The Democratic representative and one of the best-known opponents of President Donald Trump had written a letter to Grenell Tuesday about his concerns about staffing changes Grenell had made in the Office of National Intelligence.
Grenell says that this letter was actually sent to the media before it was sent to him, as represented by a reporter for The Hill tweeting the letter.
“His letter was sent to the press before it was sent to me,” Grennell tweeted.
“These press leaks politicizing the intelligence community must stop.”
His letter was sent to the press before it was sent to me. These press leaks politicizing the intelligence community must stop. https://t.co/hdWIzGWvZr
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 7, 2020
A House Intelligence Committee aide disputed this accusation and said the letter was sent to Grenell’s office at 1:14 p.m. and shared with the media 14 minutes after, Politico reported.
In his letter, Schiff wrote that he was concerned Grennell was making organizational and personnel changes in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence “without consulting and seeking authorization from Congress and in a manner that undermines critical intelligence functions.”
“These developments call into question both your commitment to ensuring that the Intelligence Community’s work on behalf of our nation is not inappropriately influenced by political considerations, as required by law and that the IC will continue to speak truth to power,” Schiff wrote.
Schiff also criticized Grenell for making changes while temporarily holding his position as he was not nominated to be the permanent DNI.
“President Trump did not nominate you for confirmation as permanent DNI, and it would be inappropriate for you to pursue any additional leadership, organizational, or staffing changes to ODNI during your temporary tenure,” he wrote.
“Any effort, moreover, to remove or otherwise initiate personnel actions against apolitical career officers based on their perceived loyalty to the President would contravene civil service protections.”
Schiff’s letter was sent days after President Donald Trump fired intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who played a key role in the whistleblower complaint about Trump’s communications with Ukraine that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Schiff asked Grenell to provide an answer in writing as to whether he had prohibited Atkinson from “initiating, carrying out, or completing any investigation, inspection, audit, or review.”
“The Committee is reviewing the circumstances of Mr. Atkinson’s dismissal, including whether his termination was intended to curb any ongoing investigations or reviews being undertaken by his office,” Schiff wrote.
Grenell was appointed acting director of national intelligence in February after Joseph Maquire was removed from the position. Grenell is the first openly gay Cabinet member in history, Fox News reported.
Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe, a prominent Trump supporter, has been nominated by the president to serve as the next permanent DNI and will most likely face a fierce confirmation battle in the next few months.
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