Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Schiff V. Grenell

An interesting battle is shaping up between Adam Schiff, Dem chair of the House intelligence committee, and President Trump's Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Rick Grenell. Schiff has attempted to bully Grenell and bring him to heel--which is to say, bring a halt to Grenell's ongoing housecleaning of the Intel Community. Grenell has rejected Schiff's demand that personnel moves be cleared through Schiff. In typical Schiff fashion, Schiff's missives have--for practical purposes--been released to the press before Grenell has had any chance to respond. Grenell is having none of it, and has responded in a manner that sets him apart from the usual groveling of agency heads before a Congressional committee chairman.

The Hill has a summary of the spat: Intelligence chief Grenell hits back against Schiff criticism of agency reorganization. Schiff set things off by essentially claiming that Grenell should clear personnal changes through Schiff.

Schiff noted that Grenell was pursuing leadership changes at intelligence agencies without seeking authorization from Congress and raised questions about the removal or departure of every Senate-confirmed official at the ODNI.  
Schiff also accused Grenell of allowing his staff to “interfere with the production and briefing of intelligence information” on election security that was given to Congress during a March 10 all-members briefing on election security.  
Another issue raised by Schiff was the decision by President Trump to fire Michael Atkinson, the now-former acting inspector general of the IC. Atkinson alerted Congress to the anonymous whistleblower complaint around Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that ultimately kicked off the impeachment investigation into Trump. 

Grenell responded by telling Schiff in just about so many words to mind his own business and spend some time reading the Constitution:

Grenell pointedly ended his letter by telling Schiff he hoped future letters would be more bipartisan, as Schiff was not joined by any committee Republicans in sending his initial letter. 
“I strongly agree with your statement of a bipartisan legislative commitment to the IC,” Grenell wrote. “I would hope to see this commitment reflected on the signature line of your future letters.”

Grenell ended his letter by pointedly suggesting that Schiff regarded "oversight" in terms never contemplated by the Constitution:

Grenell added that he would “encourage” Schiff to “think of the relationship between your committee and the IC as that between the legislative and executive branches of government, rather than that between a hedge fund and a distressed asset, as your letter suggests.”

All good clean fun, and you can bet that Grenell will have AG Barr's backing in any legal confrontations.

However, Grenell may have more up his sleeve in confronting Schiff's efforts to slow down the draining of the Deep State swamp. John Solomon has detailed Schiff's efforts--successful so far--to prevent the testimony of many Russia Hoax plotters and witnesses from being released to the American people. And this despite a bipartisan House vote to release those transcripts. Be it noted, those transcripts included the testimony of such luminaries as Andrew McCabe, disgraced former Deputy Director of the FBI, and Michael Sussman, lawyer to the DNC and to the Hillary campaign, who hired Fusion GPS and Chris Steele and who prevented the FBI from examing the DNC server--and God only knows what else. Sussman's fingerprints are on virtually any Dem outrage against our electoral system you care to imagine.

Here's how Schiff worked this:

In late September 2018 with a mid-year election approaching, the often bitterly divided House Intelligence Committee forged a rare bipartisan moment: Its Republican and Democratic members voted to make public the transcripts of 53 witnesses in the Russia collusion investigation.
But what was hailed as an act of transparency has not been fulfilled 19 months later, even though U.S intelligence has declassified and cleared the transcripts for release.

The 'why not' is contained in a letter Schiff sent to disgraced former DNI Dan Coats, after Schiff became chairman of HPSCI.

Recall that as we just saw, the House had voted to release the transcripts. Problem: That meant that the transcripts would need to go through declassification review before they could be released. And among those who would need to review those transcripts, in some cases, would be White House lawyers. So, Schiff wrote his letter to the compliant Coats in March, 2019, over a year ago. According to John Solomon--How Adam Schiff secretly thwarted efforts to bring transparency in Russia probe: Democrat demanded DNI keep evidence from Trump, holds transcripts that were supposed to be made public:

The letter ... specifically ordered that the witness transcripts — some of which contained exculpatory evidence for President Trump’s team — not be shared with Trump or White House lawyers even if the declassification process required such sharing.
“Under no circumstances shall ODNI, or any other element of the Intelligence Community (IC), share any HPSCI transcripts with the White House, President Trump or any persons associated with the White House or the President,” Schiff wrote in a March 26, 2019 letter to then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. 
“Such transcripts remain the sole property of HPSCI, and were transmitted to ODNI for the limited purpose of enabling a classification review by IC elements and the Department of Justice,” Schiff added.

The result was that 10 transcripts that required WH review have remained in limbo. On the other hand, 43 transcripts were reviewed and sent back to ... Schiff. Who presumably has custody of those transcripts, in the same filing cabinet that contains the transcrip of Michael Atkinson's testimony in Schiff's Impeachment Theater. GOP members have never been informed in that regard. Nor did Coats apparently advise anyone except Schiff upon completion of the review--which gives you some idea of the roadblocks President Trump has faced.

A spokesman for Schiff and House Intelligence Committee Democrats did not return an email Monday seeking comment.
If Schiff possesses the declassified transcripts, he does not appear to have told Republicans on his committee. Several GOP lawmakers and staff on the committee told Just the News they have never been alerted that ODNI finished its review.

All this is Dems being Dems, Schiff being Schiff. But here's the interesting thing to me. How did John Solomon come to know all this? Well, Solomon "obtained" a copy of the letter--which I take to mean that Grenell gave it to Solomon, probably through suitable intermediaries. So, a leak. And I wouldn't be surprised to see more such leaks in the coming months, as Grenell reveals the complicity between Senate and House Dems and the Intel Community. For sure John Durham will be getting full cooperation from Grenell with regard to both documentation he may be seeking as well as access to witnesses.

By the way, you can read a copy of the letter that Solomon "obtained" at the link, below. Note the closing line. Schiff claims to hope that the transcripts will soon be returned to the Committee "for ultimate public release." Perhaps this will lead to some additional pressure for that public release.


  1. Schiff is ending up with more than he bargained for. This could mess up his dreams of being president some day. Grenell is very, very strong. I’m glad to see Solomon back, doing what he was so good at when he started doing investigative work and publicly revealing what he was finding…

    When we suffered under Schiff’s local representation in CA, we never dreamed that this monstrous little creature would manage to get to such a position of power. Then he became San Fran Nan’s hit man.

    1. What goes around comes around, and he's due for an oversize helping of that.

    2. Bullies and toadies are naturally attracting masses.
      Tom S.

  2. Schiff in the House, and Werner/Burr in the Senate, have much to explain of their conduct. At what level of complicity does a politician's acts in this hoax rise to potential criminal liability?

  3. If the Reps take back the House, expect to see these documents released. And if McCarthy is elected Speaker, no more Boehner and Ryan nonsense about sitting on wrongdoing by the Deep State and exculpatory evidence for the President.

    The Reps don't all have clean hands. Think Burr, as a prime example. I know that you know this, just saying.

  4. Equity dictates that we should not have to wait for Republicans to take back the House for these transcripts to be released because the majority of the HPSCI, on a bipartisan basis, voted to release them. But it's futile to file an ethics complaint against Schiff, the D's control the Ethics Committee as well as the HPSCI. Judicial Watch could file suit against Schiff, but the case would either be mysteriously assigned to Amy Berman Jackson or languish in pre-trial motions until after Election Day.

    I wish I shared your confidence in Kevin McCarthy. If you recall, he was a strong Paul Ryan ally during Ryan's Speakership. I fear McCarthy is just mouthing the words expected by Dobbs, Hannity and Ingram until he can obtain the gavel - then it's back to business as usual, Deep State/Chamber of Commerce style.

    I'd much rather see Jim Jordan as Speaker. He has the integrity, loyalty and political intelligence the Speakership so desperately needs, but perhaps he threatens too many House RINO RICE BOWLS to be elected. I say this because I haven't seen the ranks of the Freedom Caucus swelling as we would hope.

    1. Don't mistake my comment. I don't have confidence in McCarthy. I guess I'm just scolding him. Not that he cares what I think.

      McCarthy, as you say, is probably a country club Republican.

    2. I can see that I came across as backing McCarthy, or expressing confindence in him. Not my intention, at all. Sometimes I am not precise. The mind thinks more than the fingers can type.

  5. Grenell has a strong history in Europe of upsetting a lot of the right people. It seems Grenell is continuing that in his new role as DNI. And he has Trump's backing! And there is an AG, Barr, that will back him!

    This is a fight Schiff should have avoided. Lots of Schiff's power is perceived, not actual.