Susan Collins Breaks With Trump on Director of National Intelligence Pick

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks with reporters after the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, February 4, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Republican Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Monday rejected President Trump’s pick to lead the intelligence community, saying Richard Grenell does not have the experience to serve as director of national intelligence.

“I would have much preferred that the president nominate the acting director Maguire for the post,” Collins said, referring to the former director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.

“As one of the four authors of the law that created the DNI back in 2004, I care deeply about that position and believe the person needs experience in the intelligence community, which regrettably Ambassador Grenell does not have,” Collins continued.

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The Maine Republican, who is up for reelection this year, is the first in Trump’s party to raise concerns about his pick. Collins helped draft the 2004 law that established the office of director of national intelligence.

Maguire was forced out on Thursday, his sudden departure causing consternation among the Intelligence Community, and replaced with Grenell, formerly the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.

His departure came after Trump was reportedly irked about a classified briefing last Thursday during which Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community election threats executive, warned lawmakers that Russia is again interfering in the 2020 campaign and attempting to get Trump reelected.

The president was said to be “out of joint with Maguire” on that process after hearing about the intelligence conclusion from a House Republican rather than from the intelligence community itself.

Trump later pushed back on the narrative that he is the favorite candidate of Russia, calling it “another misinformation campaign” that was “launched by Democrats.”

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