President Donald Trump’s new Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) just got busted for working for a Moldovan oligarch accused of corruption without registering as a foreign agent as required by law.
Earlier this week, Trump fired Acting DNI Joseph Maguire after his office briefed the House Intelligence Committee about ongoing Russian interference with the 2020 election, something Trump has wanted to keep a secret.
In his place, Trump installed Ambassador to Germany and loyalist Richard Grenell to the post, despite Grenell having zero experience in the intelligence field, drawing warnings from national security experts.
Trump’s selection of Grenell has already been widely panned based on his history as a MAGA troll on Twitter and his effort to aid the growth of right-wing groups in Europe using his diplomatic office. The last thing Trump needs is yet another scandal involving Grenell.
But with such an important promotion comes the added scrutiny of Grenell’s past, which has revealed some major red flags.
Like Trump associates Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who worked for Ukraine without registering as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Grenell once worked for a Moldovan oligarch accused of corruption by the United States government.
According to an explosive report published by ProPublica:
In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.
FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating.”
“There is real reason to believe that Mr. Grenell should have registered here,” attorney Matthew Sanderson told ProPublica. “This is exactly the type of circumstances I’d expect the Department of Justice to investigate further.”
Indeed, failure to disclose such activities and ties makes officials vulnerable to blackmail. It also means Grenell should not receive security clearance. This would be like Trump installing Manafort as his DNI. But Manafort is currently serving a stint in prison over his own failure to register as a foreign agent among other criminal activities.
Furthermore, this is also quite a display of hypocrisy. After all, Trump and his allies have insisted that his effort to extort Ukraine into investigating his political rivals was all about rooting out corruption. But his own acting DNI worked for a corrupt oligarch and failed to disclose it, which is also corrupt. If Trump really wants to tackle corruption, he should start within his own administration by reversing his decision to put Grenell in charge of all 17 of our nation’s intelligence agencies.
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