The purge of those who are not Trump loyalists in the intelligence community continues. CNN is reporting that there are more departures expected, and that Shelby Pierson, the person in charge of evaluating intelligence regarding election security with the ODNI, may be the next to go now that Trump has his flunky, Richard Grennell as temporary Director of National Intelligence:
Some top intelligence officials are looking to leave following the recent upheaval at the office that oversees the 17 intelligence agencies of the US government, including the controversial appointment of Richard Grenell as the nation's top intelligence official, a US official told CNN.
Grenell has said he is only temporarily filling the position of acting director of American spy agencies, but he is already making his mark. Grenell, a President Donald Trump loyalist, is also still serving as the US ambassador to Germany. After his appointment to the intelligence post this week, officials at the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) made calls to US diplomats in Germany inquiring about Grenell's leadership style, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Earlier this week, Grenell quickly forced out the number two intelligence official in the US government, Andrew Hallman, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CNN. Hallman was an intelligence veteran and well respected in the intelligence community.
CNN reported earlier this week that Hallman was leaving. The New York Times first reported Grenell ousted him.
There are fears within the intelligence community that Hallman may not be the only top official forced out. Career intelligence professionals worry that Shelby Pierson, the person in charge of evaluating intelligence regarding election security with the ODNI, will be moved out of her position, according to a former top intelligence official.
Pierson is highly regarded and viewed as not partisan by intelligence community colleagues who know her to be confident and well versed in the work she does. She isn't afraid of making tough calls and fiercely defending her analysis when challenged, colleagues say.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet discussed the reasons for this latest move with CNN's Victor Blackwell this Sunday:
“It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out,” Sweet explained. “This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn’t seen fit to have a permanent director for months now.”
“Now, post-impeachment, you also have the issue of whether or not part of his [Richard Grenell’s] role there it is to oversee a purge of people who are not seen as Trump loyalists,” she continued. “All of which goes to the heart of United States intelligence mission which is to get and gather information in a nonpartisan way to brief partisan officials to base their policy decisions on.” [...]
“What we’ve learned from sources is that inside the office of the Director of National Intelligence is she could be next to be pushed out of the office,” he added. “What’s the impact of getting rid of that person as we’re about eight months out from elections?”
“It is two levels of answers here, Victor,” Sweet replied. “One, you’re getting rid of a seasoned professional in what would seem like a retaliatory act for putting forth intelligence you don’t like. Again, it goes to the core of what intelligence is for: just to get unvarnished information. If, indeed, she’s presiding over election security issues, that’s the intelligence community needs to be on top of if she does leave. Will the mission still be carried out when election security is a top priority of the United States?”