On Tuesday, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attacked acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell, snapping that Grenell had “no experience in intelligence but plenty of political loyalty to the president.” Grenell fired back on Twitter, writing, “I was hoping to brief Senator @MarkWarner on the reforms I am implementing but he canceled our scheduled phone call and hasn’t been willing to reschedule the call in months. We’ve never spoken.”
I was hoping to brief Senator @MarkWarner on the reforms I am implementing but he cancelled our scheduled phone call and hasn’t been willing to reschedule the call in months. We’ve never spoken. https://t.co/UHgK1zUPmS
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 5, 2020
Warner’s comments were made at the confirmation hearings for Rep. John Ratcliffe, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be director of national intelligence. Ratcliffe’s original nomination was withdrawn after criticism that he had been a vociferous defender of President Trump during the Russia investigations and impeachment proceedings; he was renominated in February.
I believe the president attacks our intelligence agencies for one simple reason: because unvarnished truth and unembellished analysis are not welcome in this White House. What we’ve seen over the last year has been especially dangerous: the systematic firing of anyone at the ODNI who has the temerity to speak truth to power. From DNI Dan Coats and principal deputy Sue Gordon to acting DNI Admiral Joe Maguire to acting director of national counterterrorism Senator Russ Travers to the Inspector General of the intelligence community Michael Atkinson.
Then he targeted Grenell:
These firings and forced departures from the leadership of the intelligence community have left the ODNI without a single Senate-confirmed leader at the helm. Instead, an acting DNI, with no experience in intelligence but plenty of political loyalty to the president, has been appointed to oversee America’s intelligence enterprise. As acting DNI, this individual promptly instituted a hiring freeze and a reorganization whose purpose has not been communicated to the intelligence oversight committees. He also quickly fired senior leaders with decades of experience in the IC. Alarmingly, we have begun to hear reports that intelligence professionals have been inappropriately pressured to limit the information they share with Congress.
Warner added, “I would simply point out that it is somewhat unique to me that not only has the president made these comments about the long-term professionals, but literally, every person, I think without exception, that the president has appointed for Senate confirmation within the Director of National Intelligence, has been fired, removed, or pushed out. My conclusion, maybe not shared by all my colleagues, but because all of those individuals, when they took on these positions, did what I thought was right, which is being willing to speak truth to power, and that cost them their job. If you get this job, I hope you’ll continue in the vein of the Dan Coatses and the Sue Gordons and the Joe Maguires and the Andrew Hallmans who I think honored their commitment even at the cost of their job.”
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