Trump names incompetent person as acting spy chief
US President Donald Trump has named an inexperienced and incompetent person as acting spy chief.
"I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him," Trump tweeted.
News of the pick, which was first reported by the New York Times, comes as Trump faces a March 11 deadline to nominate a new director of national intelligence or name a new acting spy chief as federal law prevents Maguire from serving beyond that date.
Even in an acting role, Grenell's lack of intelligence-related experience is likely to unsettle the US intelligence community, which has endured repeated attacks from the President since his 2016 election win over the Russia investigation and later the whistleblower complaint that gave way to the Ukraine impeachment inquiry, which made Trump just the third president in American history to be impeached.
But it does not appear that Trump is looking for someone with deep intelligence experience in the role -- a former senior White House official described Trump's decision as "filling the gaps" following the impeachment acquittal, sensing disloyalty in Maguire, and filling that position with somebody he sees as sufficiently loyal. Trump is "looking for a 'political' who will have his back," the former official said.
However, the move is raising concerns even among Trump allies who have been quick to point out that Grenell's primary qualification appears to be his loyalty to the President.
One source close to Trump told CNN they were surprised by the pick, noting Grenell has zero intelligence-related experience.
And another Trump adviser described Grenell as "out of his league" for the acting DNI job, adding that some in the administration are "embarrassed by his behavior." Previous holders of the DNI job have served in the intelligence community, the US Senate and senior levels of the military. Grenell, on the other hand, does not boast a resume with similar credentials despite his stint as the US ambassador to Germany.
"Everybody came into (the DNI job) with a relevant understanding, of which this guy has none," said Bob Litt, former ODNI general counsel, who called the move "extremely dangerous."
"This is a President who has loathed and feared the (intelligence community) since before he was inaugurated and he views them as a deep state hostile to him seeking to undercut him and he'll seek to undercut them," he said. "Clearly the important thing here is the President feels Grenell will do his bidding."