As acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell tied up loose ends to make way for permanent DNI John Ratcliffe, he completed the declassification process for a new batch of documents related to the origins of the Russia probe. Included among them are transcripts of calls between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during the presidential transition period.
A senior intelligence official told Fox News that one of the documents was “very significant in understanding how intelligence was manipulated to support launching the Russia investigation.”
It is now up to the newly sworn-in DNI to release them. Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney and up until today, the Republican Rep. from Texas, has been a fierce defender of President Trump from the start.
Grenell recently declassified 57 transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Trump/Russia collusion, a move which pressured Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) into releasing them. This was hugely embarrassing to Schiff because they revealed one Obama official after another admitting they knew of no evidence which tied President Trump or any member of his campaign to collusion with Russia after they had long implied otherwise on cable TV shows.
Additionally, he fully declassified Susan Rice’s now infamous Inauguration Day “by the book” email as well as the list of Obama Administration officials who had requested unmaskings of Gen. Michael Flynn’s phone calls.
Schiff was especially angry about the latter and wrote Grenell a scathing letter saying the action was “without precedent” and “corrupt.” Schiff wrote, “It was a transparent political act — in an election year and during a pandemic, no less — in which you used the authorities of your position to insinuate wrongdoing by officials who acted appropriately in requesting the identity of masked U.S. persons to better understand foreign intelligence reports. This is inconsistent with the oath and obligations of an acting Director of National Intelligence.” Somebody please get this man a mirror.
Grenell took the acting DNI position in February and Republicans will remember him fondly. Democrats – not so much. Prior to this, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, a position he held simultaneously.
He announced over the weekend he would be stepping down from this position as well, a decision that was celebrated by many in the German diplomatic community. As Grenell worked to enforce President Trump’s policies abroad, he made a lot of enemies. One German politician said Grenell was a most undiplomatic diplomat. My colleague, Becca Lower, posted on this story here, writing that “his time in Berlin had ruffled feathers.”
In addition to declassifying documents, Grenell accomplished many other things during his brief tenure as DNI.
A senior intelligence official told Fox News that during his time at ODNI, Grenell appointed the first female to lead the National Counterterrorism Center, Lora Shiao; established an intelligence community-wide working group to support a policy for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the 69 countries where being LGBT is a punishable offense; finalized and released the National Intelligence Estimate on the future of ISIS through 2021; and engaged foreign liaison partners to form a working group to increase intelligence sharing with key allies on Hezbollah.
The official also told Fox News that Grenell directed the intelligence community to change the way it protects the identities of U.S. citizens contained within intelligence reporting, urging consistency to the process and ensuring the “greater privacy” of U.S. citizens.
Grenell did an excellent job and he will be missed. Hopefully, he will be offered another position within the Trump Administration.