Even during a national emergency, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is finding ways to start political drama.
The Democrat sent a threatening letter Tuesday to Ric Grenell, President Donald Trump’s acting National Intelligence director, accusing him of undermining U.S. intelligence and demanding a thorough explanation for his actions, Fox News reported. Grenell responded by slapping down the House Intelligence Committee chairman for “politicizing” the intelligence community and rebuking him for leaking the letter to the media.
“His letter was sent to the press before it was sent to me. These press leaks politicizing the intelligence community must stop,” Grenell tweeted Tuesday.
Grenell shoots down Schiff
Schiff’s letter accuses Grenell of undermining the independence of the Intelligence Community by seeking changes unauthorized by Congress, and that leave in doubt whether Grenell will “speak truth to power,” evoking sharp rhetoric from the impeachment of Trump. Democrats have claimed that Grenell is inexperienced and that Trump tapped him explicitly to remove insubordinates from U.S. intelligence agencies.
They have made similar complaints about Republican John Ratcliffe (TX), a Trump loyalist whom the president has picked to replace Grenell permanently.
“These developments call into question both your commitment to ensuring that the Intelligence Community’s (IC) work on behalf of our nation is not inappropriately influenced by political considerations, as required by law and that the IC will continue to speak truth to power,” Schiff wrote in his Tuesday letter.
The House Intel panel chairman went on to point to Trump’s Friday firing of Michael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community inspector general (IG) who briefed Congress on the complaint from a “whistleblower” that sparked Trump’s impeachment.
The Democrat demanded a written explanation concerning whether Grenell ever tried to block investigations by Atkinson, as well as a written certification that he will not interfere with the work of inspector generals.
Schiff demands answers
According to The Hill, Schiff also complained Tuesday about Grenell’s shake-up of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), especially in light of Grenell’s temporary appointment, and demanded a thorough explanation for all changes to staffing and structure. He also pointed to concerns that Grenell’s staff might have tampered with intelligence about election security that was provided to Congress at a March 10 briefing.
“If accurate, this politicization of intelligence would constitute a grave breach of your duty as Acting DNI to preserve the independence of the IC, protect the integrity of U.S. elections, and keep the Congress fully and currently informed of intelligence activities,” Schiff wrote.
Democrats have accused Trump of seeking to “politicize” the intelligence community — in part by investigating the origins of the Trump–Russia probe — and systematically purge his administration of people who Trump considers insufficiently loyal.
But while Schiff accuses Trump of politicizing the IC, Trump and his supporters have said that the shoe is on the other foot — that it is the intelligence community that was politicized, against Trump, and it that needs to be rid of corrupt officials.
On Tuesday, Trump fired Glenn Fine, the inspector general at the Pentagon tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus bailout fund, Axios reported. Meanwhile, Schiff has floated forming a commission to investigate Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
While America suffers, it looks like Adam Schiff is obsessed with the same old palace intrigue.