Schiff said every Senate-appointed official in the DNI’s hierarchy had been removed.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff accused President Donald Trump’s top intelligence official Tuesday of undermining “critical intelligence functions” by keeping Congress in the dark about organizational changes he’s been implementing.
“This effort appears to be proceeding despite the Coronavirus pandemic and amid indications … of political interference in the production and dissemination of intelligence,” Schiff wrote in a four-page letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
Schiff emphasized that under Grenell’s management, every Senate-appointed official in the DNI’s hierarchy had been removed. And Congress, he said, had not been consulted about the intelligence or national security implications of the changes.
“President Trump did not nominate you for confirmation as permanent DNI,” Schiff wrote, “and it would be inappropriate for you to pursue any additional leadership, organizational or staffing changes to ODNI during your temporary tenure.”
Grenell, who Trump installed as acting DNI last month to replace the previous temporary head Joseph Maguire, was moved to the position after a stint as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Democrats raised concerns at the time that Grenell, who has limited national security experience, was being installed in the high-level intelligence post because of his loyalty to Trump. Schiff is demanding that Grenell produce by April 16 a detailed written explanation of all of his organizational changes.
In his letter, Schiff also sounds the alarm on Trump’s abrupt removal of intelligence community watchdog Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report related to Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine led the House to impeach him last fall. He is asking Grenell to indicate whether he ever exercised his authority to prevent Atkinson from completing any of his unfinished work before Trump placed him on administrative leave and initiated his firing.
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