February 20, 2020

Talk about alarms going off! Trump naming Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, as the National Director of Intelligence is a very, very bad thing. For one thing, there's clearly a partisan political motive with the election in mind -- because (and here's the good part) he's also keeping his job in Germany!

Imagine. He will be Trump's intelligence counterpart of Bill Barr at the DOJ. (His background is in communications and public affairs i.e. political PR hack.)

"We can't say this enough. He has no intelligence background and the director of national intelligence, it's a job. It's a role that was created after 9/11 to oversee the entire intelligence apparatus," John Berman said.

"And to prevent another 9/11. Because the issue going in was, you wanted coordination among the agencies, intelligence sharing, et cetera," Jim Sciutto said.

"I'm going to read in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004: Any individual nominated for appointment as DNI shall have extensive national security expertise.' That was the intelligence of this. They wanted someone with the experience and the leadership to bring it all together so that the country doesn't face a threat like that again," Sciutto said.

"He has diplomatic experience now. But that's vastly different from intelligence experience, and there is some evidence that the experience that he has that matters to the president is of a completely different nature. And that's as a partisan loyalist. and again, partisanship has its place. Politics has its place. Anyone on twitter knows that Rick Grenell is a bomb thrower," Berman said.

So Trump cuts the Senate out of the process, because he's being brought in as the acting director of national intelligence.

"That's crucial in this case because it's our reporting that even Republican senators have communicated to the White House that they do not believe Rick Grenell has the experience to do this. There are sitting senators today that were involved in writing the 2004 Act that they know and they wrote the law that you put someone in that role who was up to the role."

Steve Benen at the Maddow blog sums it up:

Though Trump yesterday referred to Grenell as "highly respected," the truth is that Grenell was so reviled in his current diplomatic post that some German officials spoke publicly about the possibility of asking him to leave the country.

And did I mention that Grenell was also a relevant figure in the White House's Ukraine scandal? Because that's another relevant part of his c.v.

He'll now parlay that failure into leading the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. What's more, while this is a Senate-confirmed position, Grenell will reportedly begin his tenure today in an acting capacity.

Samantha Power, who was President Barack Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, said in a tweet, "Appointing [Grenell] who has politicized every issue he has touched and has contempt for facts, would be a travesty." Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, added, "This is a national disgrace."

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