Apr 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schiff demands that Grenell explain Trump's purge of inspectors general

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to reporters
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell on Tuesday demanding he turn over documents explaining his management of the intelligence community amid concerns of the politicization of the agency.

Why it matters: The letter, which calls for a response by April 16, comes as President Trump continues his purge of inspectors general across the federal government that he deems disloyal to his administration.

  • Late Friday night, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community IG who alerted Congress to the whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment proceedings against the president.
  • On Monday, Trump removed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's acting inspector general, who was slated to oversee the implementation of the government's $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.

Grenell, who is not Senate confirmed, has been at the helm of the intelligence agency during the purge.

  • Trump nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as the permanent director of national intelligence in February. Grenell will serve as the acting intelligence chief until Ratcliffe is confirmed by the Senate.

Details: Schiff claimed Grenell has undermined critical intelligence functions by failing to consult Congress about the personnel changes.

  • He added that the decision to act during the coronavirus pandemic and "amid indications ... of political interference in the production and dissemination of intelligence" raised concerns that Grenell is not committed to ensuring the intelligence community is not "inappropriately influenced by political considerations."
  • Schiff also requested that Grenell provide documentation from the acting general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that officials, including Grenell, "will not permit retaliation or reprisals against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of misconduct to Congress or Inspectors General."
  • Schiff also cited reports that members of Grenell's staff "may be inappropriately interfering with the production and briefing of intelligence information on election security to Congress," following a March 10 congressional briefing on potential foreign interference in the 2020 presidential race that conflicted with a previous briefing on the issue. Schiff also demanded that Grenell turn over communications related to the briefing.

Read the full letter.

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