Feb 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump misrepresents 2020 Russia briefing as Democratic "misinformation"

Photo: Mazza/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump said in a Friday tweet that a briefing by a top election-security official before the House Intelligence Committee last week on Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election was a "misinformation campaign ... launched by Democrats in Congress."

Why it matters: Trump, who was reportedly infuriated by the event, has made moves in recent days to ensure that administration jobs are held by those loyal to him — notably at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which led the briefing despite Trump's assertion that it was headed by congressional Democrats.

  • Trump was especially displeased that it took place before House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who was the lead House impeachment manager during Trump's impeachment inquiry.

What Trump said: "Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!"

The state of play: The ODNI will now be led by Trump loyalist and ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell in an acting capacity, despite the fact that he has never worked for an intelligence agency.

Go deeper

House warned of Russian effort to re-elect Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump meet at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last June. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

The nation's top election-security official warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected, continuing to attempt to sow discord among the American electorate, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump's administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. saw in 2016.

Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."