GOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections MORE (R-Iowa) is blocking President TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? 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 McConnellHas Trump beaten the system? Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Tokyo Olympics kick off with 2020-style opening ceremony 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 CoatsFormer Trump officials including Fiona Hill helped prepare Biden for Putin summit: report Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid 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.