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Politics Richard Grenell Begins Overhauling Intelligence Office, Prompting Fears of Partisanship

00:30  22 february  2020
00:30  22 february  2020 Source:   nytimes.com

Trump's acting intelligence chief Grenell says won't be tapped for permanent post

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WASHINGTON — Richard Grenell ’s tenure as the nation’s top intelligence official may be short-lived, but he wasted no time this week starting to shape his team of advisers, ousting his office ’s No. 2 official — a longtime intelligence officer — and bringing in an expert on Trump conspiracy theories to help

Word that Richard Grenell will be taking over the US intelligence community has raised alarm among the Resistance and divided MAGA-land, with some Trump announced the appointment on Thursday evening, calling Grenell a “highly respected” ambassador who has represented the US “exceedingly

WASHINGTON — Richard Grenell’s tenure as the nation’s top intelligence official may be short-lived, but he wasted no time this week starting to shape his team of advisers, ousting his office’s No. 2 official — a longtime intelligence officer — and bringing in an expert on Trump conspiracy theories to help lead the agency, according to officials.

a group of people posing for the camera: Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, has begun bringing in his own aides. © Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, has begun bringing in his own aides.

Mr. Grenell has also requested the intelligence behind the classified briefing last week before the House Intelligence Committee where officials told lawmakers that Russia was interfering in November’s presidential election and that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia favored President Trump’s re-election. The briefing later prompted Mr. Trump’s anger as he complained that Democrats would use it against him.

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Richard Grenell , the American ambassador to Germany, was expected to be the president’s pick to be acting director of national intelligence .Credit Visar Mr. Grenell , whose outspokenness throughout his career as a political operative and then as ambassador has prompted criticism, is a vocal Trump

President Trump confirmed Wednesday night that he is appointing Richard Grenell , the U.S. ambassador to Germany, as acting director of national intelligence . Current acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who would have had to step down by March 12 because he lacked Senate confirmation

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Joseph Maguire, the former acting director of national intelligence, and his deputy, Andrew P. Hallman, resigned on Friday. Mr. Grenell told Mr. Hallman, popular in the office’s Liberty Crossing headquarters, that his service was no longer needed, according to two officials. Mr. Hallman, who has worked in the office or at the C.I.A. for three decades, expressed confidence in his colleagues in a statement but also referred to the “uncertainties that come with change.”

The ouster of Mr. Hallman and exit of Mr. Maguire, who also oversaw the National Counterterrorism Center, allowed Mr. Grenell to install his own leadership team.

Pelosi: Trump politicized intel community after Russia election briefing

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Richard Grenell , the U.S. ambassador to Germany, is expected to be named acting Director of National Intelligence , a White House Maguire has served as acting director since July of last year since Dan Coats resigned. Grenell been a controversial figure due to his outspoken views on Twitter.

Richard Grenell , who has never worked for an intelligence agency, has been a staunch defender of Donald Trump's presidency. Richard Grenell : Trump's new acting intelligence chief likened to ‘far-right colonial officer’ in previous role.

One of his first hires was Kashyap Patel, a senior National Security Council staff member and former key aide to Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Patel will have a mandate to “clean house,” CBS News reported, citing a person close to the matter.

Mr. Patel was best known as the lead author of a politically charged memo two years ago that accused F.B.I. and Justice Department leaders of abusing their surveillance powers to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser. The memo was widely criticized as misleading, though an inspector general later found other problems with aspects of the surveillance.

Working with Mr. Nunes, Mr. Patel began what they called Objective Medusa to examine the F.B.I.’s investigation into whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign conspired with Russia’s election interference in 2016.

Trump considering Doug Collins as nominee for director of national intelligence

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Trump’s guy. Photo: Alexander Becher/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock. After 9/11, reformers created the position of director of National Intelligence to improve coordination between America’s sprawling intelligence bureaucracies

Richard Grenell said in a statement that he resigned because of the ‘hyper- partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.’ His employment under the Romney campaign had been heavily questioned by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association

“I hired him to bust doors down,” Mr. Nunes told the author Lee Smith for his book “The Plot Against the President,” which chronicles Mr. Patel’s investigations on behalf of the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Patel was interviewed extensively in the book, which claims without proof that journalists, diplomats, law enforcement and intelligence officials engaged in a vast plot to undermine Mr. Trump’s campaign and then bring him down as president.

As acting director of national intelligence, Mr. Grenell has access to any secrets he may want to review. And he has requested access to information from the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The revelations about last week’s briefing reignited fears about Russia’s continuing efforts to interfere in the American election, including in the Democratic primary races.

During the briefing, which was supposed to focus on coordination between government agencies to fight election interference, not the acts themselves, Republicans challenged the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians continue to favor Mr. Trump. Some officials said the briefing was not meant to be controversial and that intelligence officials intended to simply reiterate what they have been telling Congress for months.

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Intelligence officials have already documented instances of the Kremlin trying to influence American politics, namely attempts by Russian military intelligence officers to hack into the Ukrainian energy company that once employed the son of former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. Officials want to know whether the breach was an effort to help Mr. Trump, whose efforts to persuade Ukraine to announce investigations into Mr. Biden helped prompt his impeachment.

And during the congressional impeachment hearings, Fiona Hill, a former senior White House official who worked on Russia issues, warned about Moscow’s continued efforts to spread disinformation.

Mr. Trump himself wrote in a January letter accompanying the administration’s national counterintelligence strategy that “Russia remains a significant intelligence threat to United States interests — employing aggressive acts to instigate and exacerbate tensions and instability in the United States, including interfering with the security of our elections.”

Intelligence officials were scheduled to brief the full House and Senate on election security on March 10, arrangements that were made weeks ago, accounting to congressional aides.

How long Mr. Grenell will be able to stay as the acting director is an open question. For him to remain past March 11 — a limit imposed by federal law — Mr. Trump must formally nominate someone else for the director of national intelligence post.

Grenell asks top intel official to remain in role amid lawmaker concerns

  Grenell asks top intel official to remain in role amid lawmaker concerns Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell will not replace Shelby Pierson, the intelligence official whose briefing of the House Intelligence Committee reportedly kept President Trump from permanently appointing then-acting DNI Joseph Maguire, Pierson told The New York Times on Tuesday."Ambassador Grenell has not asked me to leave," Pierson told the newspaper. "In fact, he has encouraged and affirmed his support for my position here in the organization. I have not asked to depart nor discussed resignation in any way.

Mr. Trump told reporters late Thursday that he was considering Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the intelligence committee, but Mr. Collins took himself out of the running the next morning.

Mr. Collins, who helped lead the president’s impeachment defense, had received no advance notice that he was under consideration for the top intelligence post. He saw no reason to entertain a job he did not want, especially as he wages a special election battle for a Senate seat in his home state of Georgia.

“I know the problems in our intelligence community, but this is not a job that interests me at this time,” Mr. Collins said on Fox Business. ‘It’s not one that I would accept because I’m running a Senate race.”

People close to Mr. Collins have speculated that the president might have been trying to entice Mr. Collins out of that election to tamp down a messy intraparty fight that could cost Republicans control of the seat. Party leaders have converged around Senator Kelly Loeffler since Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia appointed her to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat late last year and have made no secret of their disdain for Mr. Collins’s refusal to exit the race.

A nomination to a cabinet-level position would have required Mr. Collins to drop out of the race. But given his lack of intelligence experience and political track record, there was little likelihood the Senate would have confirmed him to the post.

With Mr. Collins off the table, Mr. Trump will need another potential nominee. The White House is considering Pete Hoekstra, the former Republican congressman who is now the American ambassador to the Netherlands, according to three officials.

Whether the Senate would be willing to formally consider Mr. Hoekstra is unclear. But if Mr. Trump were to send a nomination to the Senate it would, under federal law, allow Mr. Grenell to serve for at least another six months.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

Acting intelligence chief Richard Grenell to keep official who infuriated Trump over Russia testimony .
The intelligence community's top election security official will stay on despite angering President Trump by telling lawmakers that Russia was intervening in the 2020 election — in his favor. © Provided by Washington Examiner The decision to keep election security coordinator Shelby Pierson is seen as an attempt to reassure intelligence officials, some of whom are concerned that newly acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, a close Trump ally, will politicize intelligence.

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