Intelligence officials who made noise about problems with the investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia were silenced or had their warnings ignored, a top former intelligence official said.
“In the Russian collusion investigation, early on there were people who raised red flags. And many of those people were silenced or their words classified and put away,” Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence (DNI) for several months this year, said Wednesday.
What happened is “an outrage” and “we have to fix it,” he added, referring to the growing body of evidence showing malfeasance during the collusion probe.
Grenell declassified a number of documents while overseeing the U.S. intelligence community, including a list of people who requested in late 2016 or early 2017 the deanonymizing of retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser.
Asked if it was possible that President Barack Obama had no idea of what was going on, Grenell said, “There is no possible way that it wasn’t known inside the White House, and that multiple layers of people knew about this.”
He also expressed disbelief over Obama administration officials saying under oath that they knew of no evidence of collusion, conspiracy, or cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Russia but said otherwise in appearances on television.
“When you read the transcripts like I did and you see what was classified and put away and then you actually see what you alluded to, individuals who are under oath say, ‘I see nothing, I see no collusion, there’s nothing, there’s not one thing that I see,’ and then I see those people on television saying the opposite, it angers me as a citizen of this country,” he said.
The transcripts of the appearances behind closed doors before lawmakers years ago were recently made public due to a push from Grenell.
One transcript showed Sally Yates, a high-level Department of Justice official, saying Obama informed her and other top officials that he knew of details from a phone call between Flynn and Sergey Kisylak, a Russian ambassador, leaving her stunned.
That Jan. 5, 2017 meeting also included, according to varying accounts, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Grenell said the intelligence he viewed while acting DNI, including some information that hasn’t been made public yet, shows that some officials “tried to utilize arms of the U.S. government to weaponize what they wanted to happen, a political weapon in this process,” Grenell said.
“As much as I think it’s just a few bad apples, there’s also a culture of what I would say middle management that looks the other way,” he added, criticizing a culture that makes it difficult for outsiders to enter.
Grenell was made acting DNI in February, replacing outgoing director Joseph Maguire.
He was replaced this week when the Senate approved Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to the position.
Grenell called for intelligence officials to “come clean and let the public realize the mistakes that were made.”
Americans won’t believe in intelligence agencies unless their reputations are improved, and coming clean is how that’s accomplished, Grenell said. Overclassification, or keeping things secret to protect not just sources and methods but also reputations, was common with intelligence communities.
Grenell was speaking during an interview with “The Mark Levin Show.” It was his first interview since being replaced by Ratcliffe.