Just minutes ago, President Trump announced that he was appointing US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to be Acting Director of National Intelligence.
….for the wonderful job he has done, and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020
This is from Politico
The move installs a fierce loyalist at the commanding heights of the American intelligence community, in the latest example of a newly liberated president seeking to place trusted individuals in highly sensitive posts.
Grenell would take over from Joseph Maguire, who entered the role after the departure of Dan Coats last summer.
As the country’s top intelligence official, Grenell — Grenell has not served in any U.S. intelligence agency — would oversee the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies and also serve on the National Security Council.
To a great extent, the critique that Grenell hasn’t served in any US intelligence agency is hogwash. Dan Coats had no experience in either intelligence or management (seriously, don’t tell me that serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee makes you qualified for much of anything). The first director, John Negroponte, was an ambassador like Grennel. And there is zero evidence that alleged “professionals” like James Clapper were an asset to the nation.
This move was telegraphed yesterday when the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jason Klitenic, announced that he was resigning. The significance of this is that, by law, the current acting director, Joseph Maguire, must leave office by March 11. His replacement must be someone who has received Senate confirmation. Maguire could be reappointed, but he’d have to wait until he’d been confirmed into the position by the Senate. A new director must be nominated and confirmed by March 11, or President Trump must pick a new acting official. Klitenic’s resignation basically cleared a Senate-appointed person from the statutory chain of succession in ODNI, allowing Grenell to be appointed.
The decision to pick Grenell has cause the usual bouts of fecal incontinence. Not only is Grenell not a creature of the intelligence swamp, he’s been a very vocal supporter of President Trump’s efforts to remind the Germans that they actually lost World War II.
Are you kidding? https://t.co/xTPkCzftEx
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) February 19, 2020
Grenell as DNI? This is crazy, even by the standards of this administration.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 19, 2020
Sen. Richard Blumenthal on CNN on the Richard Grenell news: “Having someone who is a political appointee with little or any background in intelligence come there on an acting basis is really the wrong move and I hope that the president will appoint a real professional.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 19, 2020
This is a national disgrace. Grenell would be the least qualified intelligence chief in US history. https://t.co/WliTv6DHTe
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) February 19, 2020
There is a lot more, but you get the flavor.
This goes back to my post from a few days ago that the President, in the aftermath of impeachment, is finally seeing the damage done to him, his family, and his administration by disloyal and self-serving people serving in the White House and in positions of responsibility. The move of Grenell to the top of the intelligence community ensures he has someone in charge there who can be relied upon to support President Trump’s agenda. With Pompeo at State and Esper at Defense he is getting control of the agencies most heavily infested with Obama-ite and Resistance deadwood and which have, in my view, been involved in a soft coup attempt against Trump since January 2017.
Grenell is smart and focused and talented. He’ll be at least as competent as DNI as Clapper with the advantage of not being an ongoing criminal conspiracy.