President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the wayGov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than TrumpSotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administrationMOREs sudden decision to replace his top intelligence chief sparked criticism among congressional Democrats this past week after reports that the dismissal stemmed from a classified briefing on election security with a key House panel.
Trump reportedly moved to oust acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireEx-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a ‘virtual decapitation’ of the intelligence communityTrump’s new intel chief makes immediate changes, ousts top officialHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fightMORE after a senior DNI official briefed the House Intelligence Committee about Russian efforts to aid his reelection.
The president is said to have viewed the briefing as an act of disloyalty, in part because it involved sharing information with a House panel led by one of his political foes, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi blasts Trump’s ‘dangerous’ pick for intelligence chiefSanders says he was briefed on Russian effort to help campaignTrump: Democrats ‘trying to start a rumor’ about 2020 Russian interferenceMORE (D-Calif.). He also reportedly said the briefing should not have occurred, while denying the analysis by intelligence officials and claiming the intelligence community is being played.
We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections, Schiff tweeted after news of Maguires departure. 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.
Rather than wait until Maguires acting role expired next month, Trump on Thursday tapped a longtime loyalist, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, to serve as his new interim DNI chief before he nominates a permanent replacement.
That move prompted renewed warnings from Democrats that Trump is willing to accept the help of foreign nations to benefit his reelection campaign  a claim that was central to their impeachment effort.
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRussian interference reports rock Capitol HillHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fightPelosi blasts Trump’s ‘dangerous’ pick for intelligence chiefMORE (D-Calif.) on Friday condemned Trumps DNI pick, comparing his lack of experience to her being asked to perform brain surgery.
It would be like sending me in for brain surgery, to do brain surgery on somebody. What?! Just doesnt know the territory. And its very important territory. So what the president did is dangerous,” Pelosi said during a press conference in Houston.
The Washington Post first reported Trumps motivations for removing Maguire, who was previously seen as the likely choice to lead the intelligence community. The New York Times later reported that the fallout was tied to the House briefing led by DNI official Shelby Pierson.
Additionally, the House briefing is said to have turned contentious, with the presidents GOP allies requesting Pierson provide evidence for the intelligence communitys findings. It is unclear how Pierson responded.
Some Republicans also reportedly accused representatives from other intelligence agencies of seeking to hurt Trumps reelection chances.
Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartHouse Republicans boycott public Intelligence panel hearingTrump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report GOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptionsMORE (R-Utah), a senior member of the panel, declined to discuss the nature of the classified briefing but said if such claims about Russian interference were made, they would need to be supported.
If briefers were to make such a controversial and sensitive comment, they need to be prepared to defend it, Stewart told The Hill on Friday.
Stewart is believed to be a contender for the permanent DNI role, a source confirmed to The Hill.
Trump on Friday tweeted that the decision for a permanent replacement will be made within the next few weeks, adding that there are four great candidates are under consideration for the DNI role. He did not name the candidates.
The permanent appointee, if confirmed by the Senate, will take over the role previously held by Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsRussian interference reports rock Capitol HillHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fightOvernight Defense: Seven day ‘reduction in violence’ starts in Afghanistan | US, Taliban plan to sign peace deal Feb. 29 | Trump says top intel job has four candidatesMORE. Trumps initial pick Texas GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump says he is considering four candidates for intelligence chiefTrump expected to tap Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting intel chiefTrump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report MORE withdrew from consideration in August after a barrage of media scrutiny raised questions about his previous work experience.
While Democrats have long argued that Trump is dismissive of credible U.S. intelligence, theyre now voicing concern that the president is moving to replace career officials with loyalists, noting that Grenell is a staunch Trump defender known for making controversial and divisive comments. Maguire, meanwhile, is a former Navy SEAL who had a long military career.
Richard Grenell is basically an internet troll. Hes a loyalist to the president and he is not qualified to hold this position even for a single day, Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testifyHillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt ‘war cloud’ work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currencyDemocrats criticize FCC for not taking action against DC station broadcasting Russian disinformationMORE (D-R.I.) told MSNBC. The president has installed on a temporary basis someone that is loyal to him. We need someone that is loyal to our country.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee the first hurdle for Trumps eventual permanent DNI chief slammed Grenell on Thursday.
“It appears the President has selected an individual *without any intelligence experience* to serve as the leader of the nations intelligence community in an acting capacity,” Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the wayHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fightCongress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel dramaMORE (Va.) said in a statement.
The presidents allies, however, praised Grenell, who previously served as a United Nations spokesman and political appointee.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOvernight Energy: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on ‘forever chemical’ manufacturers | California sues Trump over water order| Buttigieg expands on climate planBarr to attend Senate GOP lunch on TuesdayCalifornia delivers swift suit after Trump orders water diversionMORE (R-Calif.) in a tweet said Grenell has a proven track record of fighting for the U.S. 
Grenells appointment comes as Trump has repeatedly and publicly cast doubt about the intelligence community, claiming there is a deep state of officials who are working against him in federal agencies.
From the early days of his administration, Trump has forcefully rebuked the earlier government assessments that Russia sought to help his presidential campaign in 2016 and hurt that of his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRussian interference reports rock Capitol HillJudge dismisses Nunes’ lawsuit against Fusion GPSThe Hill’s Campaign Report: What to watch for in NevadaMORE. Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened TrumpCNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meetingThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire falloutMOREs report further supported those findings.
But Trump isnt the only candidate the Kremlin is reportedly seeking to help.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRussian interference reports rock Capitol HillThe Democratic nominee won’t be democratically chosenFox’s Ingraham mocks DNC over Nevada voting malfunctions: ‘Are we a Third World country?’MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday acknowledged that he was briefed by U.S. intelligence officials about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2020 elections, with The Washington Post reporting that Russia has sought to help his presidential campaign.
While only a small handful of members of Congress have been briefed about election security issues, both chambers are expected to be brought up to speed about potential threats in the coming weeks.
Shortly after the Post and Times reports surfaced on Thursday, Pelosi announced that the House would be briefed on March 10, the same day the Senate will receive its briefing.
American voters should decide American elections not Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fightBloomberg campaign hits Sanders over reports of Russian interferenceSanders says he was briefed on Russian effort to help campaignMORE. All Members of Congress should condemn the Presidents reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy & to politicize our intel community, Pelosi said in a pair of tweets.