Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell chose not to appear at a congressional briefing on foreign election meddling on Tuesday because he reportedly did not want to discuss issues that make President Donald Trump angry.
Lawmakers were told on Monday that Grenell would participate in the meeting, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post.
Several unnamed sources told the Post that he declined to attend the briefing because he feared questions from Democrats regarding Russia’s efforts to meddle in U.S. elections.
However, an Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) spokesperson combatted the Post’s reporting when reached by TPM. Spokeswoman Maura Beard said in an emailed statement that the office “did not communicate to Congress at any point” that Grenell would be there.
The issue of Russian election interference is an infamous source of rage for President Donald Trump, who frequently rails against and attempts to discredit the intelligence community’s findings that the Kremlin hacked the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf and plans to do so again in 2020.
In fact, it’s what cost Grenell’s predecessor, Joseph Maguire, his job in February: The New York Times and Washington Post reported that Trump became livid with Maguire after ODNI staffers informed House lawmakers, including Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), that Russia was trying to fix the election to ensure Trump’s victory in November.