Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has a history of using a willing media to further his interests and narratives.
The latest example comes from media reports of a letter Schiff sent to Acting Director of National Security Ric Grenell, except the media was provided a copy of the letter before Grenell. The director and former ambassador to Germany called Schiff and the media out on Twitter, suggesting they were “politicizing the intelligence community.”
“His letter was sent to the press before it was sent to me. These press leaks politicizing the intelligence community must stop,” Grenell said in response to a Hill reporter tweeting out a copy of the letter meant for the DNI chief.
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 official told CBS News that the letter was sent to the Office for the Director of National Intelligence at 1:14 p.m. on Tuesday. This anonymous official also told the outlet that the ODNI confirmed receipt of the letter and that the letter was provided to reporters 14 minutes later, at 1:28 p.m.
“Congress has neither authorized organizational changes at ODNI, nor appropriated funds for that purpose,” Schiff wrote in the letter. “The committee is concerned, moreover, by the removal or departure of every Senate-confirmed official at ODNI, as well as of other senior officials across ODNI’s leadership team, including [National Counterterrorism Center] Acting Director Russell Travers and Acting Deputy Director Peter Hall.”
Travers and Hall, CBS reported, previously led the National Counterterrorism Center before being abruptly replaced by “career intelligence officials who will lead the center in an acting capacity until Christopher Miller, Mr. Trump’s official nominee for director, is confirmed by the Senate.”
Grenell replaced Joseph Maguire, who oversaw the ODNI when a “whistleblower” came forward to report rumors about Trump demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky and Trump both said no such quid pro quo existed, and a transcript of their phone call showed Trump never warned Zelensky that Ukraine would not receive aid unless it investigated Trump’s political rivals.
Maguire, naturally, disagreed with the changes made by Grenell.
Schiff demanded Grenell stop making high-level staff changes within the intelligence community until a permanent director is put in place. Trump is expected to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to the position.
Schiff’s letter is not the only one requesting congressional notification of changes within the intelligence community. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) also sent a letter to Grenell asking him to consult with congress before making staff decisions and to just lay off making them until a permanent director is confirmed.
“President Trump did not nominate you for confirmation as permanent DNI,” Schiff wrote in his letter to Grenell, “and it would be inappropriate for you to pursue any additional leadership, organizational or staffing changes to ODNI during your temporary tenure.”
Schiff also wanted information regarding what he call discrepancies between two election security briefings given by the White House.
“Reports indicate that one or more members of your staff may be inappropriately interfering with the production and briefing of intelligence information on election security to Congress, including information that was briefed to all Members on March 10,” Schiff wrote in his letter to Grenell. “[I]t calls into doubt whether Congress and the American people can trust that the IC will continue producing unvarnished intelligence assessments on foreign interference efforts as the 2020 presidential election approaches.”
Schiff demanded Grenell explain the changes he has made at ODNI in writing by April 16.