President Donald Trump forced out his acting director of national intelligence because he believed — wrongly — that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) had gotten a one-on-one briefing on Russian election interference.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia wants the president to be re-elected and was taking active steps toward that goal, and Trump was furious when he learned about the classified hearing, reported the Washington Post.
However, the president erroneously believed the official, Shelby Pierson, had given that assessment exclusively to Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead Democratic investigator during the impeachment process.
Trump also believed that information would help Democratic candidates if it were released publicly, sources told the newspaper.
After learning of the hearing, Trump blamed acting intel chief Joseph Maguire and replaced him with German ambassador Richard Grenell, a partisan ally with no experience in intelligence or bureaucratic leadership.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Trump about Pierson’s testimony, although it’s not clear how the committee’s ranking Republican characterized the hearing.
Kash Patel, one of Nunes’ chief lieutenants, was named a senior adviser to Grenell after his appointment.