Acting-Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has dinged Rep. Adam Schiff in a new letter, expressing surprise the Trump foe didn’t praise the appointment of two women to head counter-terrorism unit and rejecting the congressman’s belief that lawmakers control the DNI’s day-to-day management decisions.
Mr. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, had written to Mr. Grenell on April 7 questioning his legal authority to reorganize the Office of National Intelligence and its National Counterterrorism Center.
In an April 20 reply obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Grenell called Mr. Schiff’s ideas “suggestions.”
The exchange of letters promises to be a running battle between the congressman who led the campaign to impeach and remove President Trump and the person Mr. Trump picked in February to direct national intelligence, including the CIA.
“I must disagree with your proposals to divest the DNI of managerial competence and personnel decision-making authority, and to replace your committee’s mandate for Intelligence Community (IC) oversight with a mandate for IC administration,” Mr. Grenell wrote, staking out his claim to power.
Mr. Grenell also rebutted Mr. Schiff’s allegation that a secret intelligence briefing on Russia in March was cooked.
“I must also speak on behalf of the career intelligence officers at ODNI, whom your letter accuses of politicizing the briefing to Members of Congress of March 10th,” Mr. Grenell said. “As the Acting DNI, I am compelled to defend these career officers from unsubstantiated indictments of their motivations and judgment. Many are offended by the accusations that they did not share unvarnished assessments. If you share with me the reports you believe provide evidence for these claims, I can promise you that I will review them with the seriousness such accusations demand.”
And Mr. Grenell took issue with Mr. Schiff’s criticism of the change in counter-terrorism leadership.
“I must begin by voicing my surprise that your four-page letter said nothing about the historic appointment of the first female Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC),” Mr. Grenell said. “Instead, you expressed concerns regarding the retirement of the former male Director. You erroneously cast judgment on the reason of his departure while ignoring the accomplishments of NCTC’s new leadership, two highly qualified female officers serving as the Acting Director and Acting Deputy Director. Diversity of the IC workforce should always be celebrated, and I am proud that we increased diversity within the ODNI’s senior ranks, to include more women and members of the LGBT community.”
Mr. Grenell is in the process of downsizing headquarters and the NCTC to free up more positions for operational agencies in the field and posts abroad.