GOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Mnuchin warns UK, Italy of tariffs if digital tax plans are implemented GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing MORE (R-Iowa) is blocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says US has coronavirus 'totally under control' Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution MORE's pick to be the intelligence community's top lawyer. 

The GOP senator placed a little-noticed hold on Jason Klitenic's nomination to be the general counsel for Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as he tries to pressure the agency to respond to his questions about the intelligence community's whistleblower protections. 
 
Grassley said the blockade will remain in place "until the ODNI and the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) provide fulsome responses to questions posed and documents requested concerning the Acting IC IG's efforts to terminate the Executive Director for Intelligence Community Whistleblowing and Source Protection and to hamstring the whistleblower protection program in the intelligence community." 
 
"To be clear, I have no concerns regarding Mr. Klitenic's capabilities or qualifications, and ultimately no intent of withholding my support for him as soon as this matter is resolved," he said in a statement in the Congressional Record
 
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Grassley announced last week that the would place the hold on Trump's pick, but the decision appears to have flown largely under the radar. CNN first reported on the hold Tuesday evening.
 
The hold doesn't formally block the Senate from voting on Klitenic, who was approved by the Intelligence Committee. But it would require Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution Roberts admonishes House managers, Trump lawyers after heated exchange MORE (R-Ky.) to eat up days of floor time overcoming procedural hurdles in order to get to a final vote. 
 
Grassley said he sent a letter in November to Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm DHS issues bulletin warning of potential Iranian cyberattack MORE, the director of national intelligence, about "disturbing allegations" that the acting director of the IC IG, Wayne Stone, fired Dan Meyer, his executive director, "as part of an effort to significantly weaken the IC IG's role in ensuring consistent and effective whistleblower protections throughout the intelligence community."
 
Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, noted he hasn't gotten a response to that letter. 
 
 
Grassley said the two senators are asking for a "stay of any personnel action against the Executive Director until Congress has an opportunity to review this action and fully understand exactly how the IC IG is, or is not, appropriately administering the IC whistleblowing program." 

The Office of Inspector General told CNN that it "maintains appropriate accountability to the Congress through intelligence oversight committees." 

Klitenic isn't the first nominee Grassley has leveraged in an effort to get answers from an administration. 

Grassley held up Courtney Elwood's nomination for CIA general counsel last year as he pushed for the agency to respond to his letters.

And at one point in 2015 he was blocking roughly two dozen State Department nominees.