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Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell appears to be tiring of the partisan attacks from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as evidenced by his curt dismissal of the California Democrat’s latest political assault.
Since Grenell was appointed to his temporary post in February by President Donald Trump — a lawful appointment that isn’t in question — Schiff has repeatedly complained about moves the DNI has made without the partisan Dem’s ‘approval.’
For example, Schiff blasted Grenell last month after the acting DNI made several personnel changes, doing so “without consulting and seeking authorization from Congress in a manner that undermines critical intelligence functions.”
In particular, Schiff was miffed that President Trump fired former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the official who delivered a whistleblower complaint to Congress that led to the president’s impeachment.
Grenell noted that the letter from Schiff — who has often been accused of leaking classified information — was published by the media before he even got it.
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
In a reply to that complaint, Grenell reminded the congressman of the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative Branches — a polite way of informing the California Democrat that personnel changes in the intelligence agencies are none of his business and not subject to his personal approval or that of Congress.
On Friday, Axios reported that Grenell has made additional changes, including a new policy stating that his office would be handling security briefings for political candidates, cutting out the FBI.
This latest decision has also irked Schiff.
“Our Committee did not authorize these latest changes—announced, once again, late on a Friday—by a temporary and unqualified Acting Director of National Intelligence, nor were HPSCI or SSCI even briefed or consulted, as required by law and requested by the Committees,” he complained in a statement referencing the House and Senate permanent select committees on intelligence. “The Acting DNI has a legal obligation to keep the Committee fully and currently informed of these changes and failed to do so.
“NCTC was created in the wake of the September 11th attacks, and preventing another catastrophic attack remains among our nation’s most solemn obligations,” Schiff continued, insinuating that the Trump administration and Grenell, in particular, do not share a desire to do the same.
“Many recent former NCTC leaders expressed concerns about the potential for politicized changes to NCTC. We will therefore be reviewing these significant changes carefully, including to assess the operational impact they could have on our nation’s readiness to identify, assess, and thwart potential terrorist attacks,” he concluded.
To be sure, every appointment in the Executive Branch is “political,” because the president isn’t going to put someone in a position who opposes his policies and priorities.
That said, in response to a CNN reporter who shared Schiff’s comments on Twitter, Grenell wrote, “Only in Washington, DC would one be appointed to a job but not expected to DO the job. @AdamSchiff.”
Only in Washington, DC would one be appointed to a job but not expected to DO the job. @AdamSchiff https://t.co/f5qa8lzvy6
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 15, 2020
Schiff is also likely angry at Grenell after the acting DNI forced him to release the transcripts of 53 secret witnesses who provided testimony during the Trump impeachment hearings the California Dem literally held in the basement of the U.S. Capitol Building.
The House Intelligence Committee released all of them earlier this month after Grenell threatened to do so himself.
The committee voted in September 2018 to release the transcripts, many of which pertained to interviews with Obama administration officials. But in November of that year, Democrats took control of the House, and Schiff replaced Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) as chairman. He never released the transcripts, though they were declassified and ready for release by early 2019.
The transcripts revealed that not a single Obama administration official had any evidence of “collusion” between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. Nevertheless, the entire “Spygate” probe was allegedly based on that allegation.
Also, Grenell recently declassified and released the names of Obama-era officials who requested that Michael Flynn be unmasked.
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