After President Trump got word that an intelligence official warned lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help him get re-elected, Trump berated and removed the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.
On February 13, according to reports in both the New York Times and Washington Post, a senior U.S. intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, briefed the House Intelligence Committee. During that briefing, she told lawmakers that Russia had a preference for Trump and was looking to meddle in the election to help him win. The president was informed of the assessment by Republican congressman Devin Nunes, a Trump loyalist, and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
The following day, the president reacted angrily to the news during an Oval Office meeting with Maguire and questioned his loyalty. According to the Post, Trump gave the “despondent” and apologetic acting director “a dressing-down.” Maguire’s chances for being named the permanent intelligence chief ended in the meeting.
This week, Trump announced that Maguire would be replaced by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the new acting national intelligence director. But following pushback regarding Grenell’s lack of intelligence experience, the president said he’s considering others to fill the position on a permanent basis.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff reacted to Maguire’s ouster on Twitter. Both raised concerns about Trump’s relationship with Putin and his apparent disregard for Russia’s meddling in American elections.
“American voters should decide American elections — not Vladimir Putin,” Pelosi tweeted, adding that all members of Congress “should condemn the President’s reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy & to politicize our intel community.”
“We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections. If reports are true and the President is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling. Exactly as we warned he would do, ” Schiff wrote.