Sen. Collins Says Trump’s Pick for DNI Lacks Experience

February 25, 2020 Updated: February 25, 2020

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that Republican President Donald Trump should have nominated acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to the position permanently, adding that Trump’s replacement lacks experience.

Trump named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence (DNI) last week, replacing Maguire.

“I would have much preferred that the president nominate acting director Maguire for the post,” Collins told reporters Monday afternoon in Washington. “I care deeply about that position and believe the person needs experience in the intelligence community which regrettably Ambassador Grenell does not have.”

The post of director of national intelligence, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, oversees the 17 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies including the CIA. Collins helped write the law creating the position and is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Nominating people to serve temporarily in the top intelligence post lets Trump bypass the Senate, which hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with him despite being controlled by the GOP.

Maguire’s temporary term was due to expire on March 11 and Grenell will have to step down by that date unless the president nominates someone to serve in the position permanently. If a nomination is made, Grenell could serve up to six months as acting director.

Grenell said on Twitter that he’s only serving in the position for a period of time. “The president will announce the Nominee (not me) sometime soon,” he said last week.

Richard Grenell
Richard Grenell at the Federal Defense Ministry in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 8, 2019. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Trump has only floated one name as a possible permanent DNI: Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). Collins soon responded that he didn’t want the job, citing his bid for a U.S. Senate seat. Trump said Friday that “four great candidates” are being considered and that he’d announce his decision within the next few weeks.

Collins, one of the most moderate Republicans in the Senate, was the first to voice disapproval of Grenell’s being named to the DNI position.

Senate Republican leadership was scheduled to speak to reporters on Tuesday afternoon after their weekly caucus luncheon.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the GOP leadership, told reporters on Tuesday that Grenell will do well.

“He’s a capable person. He’ll be able to do that job.” Blunt said on Capitol Hill. He said that he understood that Grenell wouldn’t be in the position permanently and that he prefers to have someone become DNI on a permanent basis.

Democrats have vociferously opposed the naming of Grenell.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) claimed that Grenell is “a political lackey, a yes man.”

“He has no experience in the intelligence community and is simply known as an acolyte to President Trump,” Schumer claimed on the Senate floor on Monday. The naming of Grenell was part of a pattern of actions from Trump that was bringing America “closer and closer to a banana republic,” Schumer said.

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