Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was still considered a frontrunner to take the post in a permanent capacity until last week — when President Donald Trump found out that Maguire’s staff had briefed House lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election on Trump’s behalf.
According to reporting from the New York Times and Washington Post, Trump was furious in particular that Maguire aide Shelby Pierson conveyed the information to Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Trump reportedly fretted that the Democrats would use it against him.
Members of both parties on the committee were in attendance at the briefing a week ago, and Trump’s allies argued with the conclusions Pierson presented, insisting that Trump has gotten tougher on Russia.
The President dressed down Maguire after the briefing, which reportedly led to his shift in favor to name U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, the acting DNI. Grenell is an avid Trump supporter who has downplayed the threat Russia poses to U.S. elections.