Top election security official who briefed lawmakers on latest Russian meddling targeted for ouster by Trump White House
During a discussion on the war on the intelligence community being waged by the Donald Trump’s White House, CNN host Victor Blackwell stated that sources speaking with the network stated that the intel official who briefed lawmakers for both parties on new efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. elections could be on the way out.
Speaking with contributor Lynn Sweet, Blackwell asked about the so-called “purge” being conducted by the White House.
“It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out,” Sweet explained. “This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn’t seen fit to have a permanent director for months now.”
“Now, post-impeachment, you also have the issue of whether or not part of his [Richard Grenell’s] role there it is to oversee a purge of people who are not seen as Trump loyalists,” she continued. “All of which goes to the heart of United States intelligence mission which is to get and gather information in a nonpartisan way to brief partisan officials to base their policy decisions on.”
“That’s exactly what Shelby Pierson was doing,” Blackwell said, describing the official who briefed the lawmakers on new Russian overtures. “She is the — this position was just created, she’s the person to oversee election security, going to brief members on the House Intelligence Committee about their assessment that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election. That they have a preference for President Trump.”
“What we’ve learned from sources is that inside the office of the Director of National Intelligence is she could be next to be pushed out of the office,” he added. “What’s the impact of getting rid of that person as we’re about eight months out from elections?”
“It is two levels of answers here, Victor,” Sweet replied. “One, you’re getting rid of a seasoned professional in what would seem like a retaliatory act for putting forth intelligence you don’t like. Again, it goes to the core of what intelligence is for: just to get unvarnished information. If, indeed, she’s presiding over election security issues, that’s the intelligence community needs to be on top of if she does leave. Will the mission still be carried out when election security is a top priority of the United States?”