Trump fired acting DNI Maguire over alleged staff disloyalty
President Trump erupted at acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire in a meeting last week over concerns about Maguire’s staff’s loyalty, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The reported incident occurred shortly before Trump announced on Wednesday Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell would take over from Maguire as the acting intelligence chief.
Trump decided against nominating Maguire for the post on a permanent basis after learning a member of his staff, Shelby Pierson, gave a classified briefing last Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee regarding election security, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The specific contents of Pierson’s briefing are unknown, but Trump appeared to believe she had given information specifically to Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) that would be beneficial to Democrats if made public, the people familiar with the matter told the Post.
Trump was furious and held Maguire personally responsible when the two next met, the Post reported, resulting in a “dressing down” by the president and which served as “the catalyst” for Trump ultimately opting to appoint Grenell.
A committee official told the Post the briefing concerned “election security and foreign interference in the run-up to the 2020 election,” speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Members on both sides participated, including Ranking Member [Devin] Nunes [R-Calif.], and heard the exact same briefing from experts across the Intelligence Community,” the committee official said. “No special or separate briefing was provided to one side or to any single member, including the chairman.”
Pierson was initially appointed in 2019 by then-DNI Dan Coats, who departed the White House the same year, and had frequently disagreed with the president on the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the threat of future interference.