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Schumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic'

Schumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic'
© Bonnie Cash
 
"Emboldened by the refusal of Senate Republicans to hold him accountable in his impeachment trial, President Trump has been interfering with the Justice Department and retaliating against officials in his administration who dared to testify truthfully before Congress," Schumer said from the Senate floor.
 
"With each of these actions — I hate to say it, but it is true — any objective person will know President Trump brings our nation closer and closer and closer to a banana republic, a government not of laws but of one man," Schumer added.
 
Schumer laid out a laundry list of actions that had taken place in the lead-up to and during the weeklong break. 
 
Those include the Justice Department's decision to ask for a "far less" sentence for Trump associate Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE, reports that Trump is trying to block former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE's book and the  appointment of Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany who is viewed as a Trump loyalist, as the next acting director of national intelligence (DNI). 
 
"In the short week that we have spent in recess, the president has managed to plunge our country even deeper into chaos," Schumer said. 
 
Referring to blocking Bolton's book, Schumer characterized the action as a "disgrace," adding that "this is what dictatorships do."
 
The Washington Post reported late last week that Trump would try to block the publication of Bolton's book by arguing that their discussions were classified. Bolton's book emerged as a flashpoint during the Senate's impeachment trial after The New York Times reported that he will claim that Trump tied Ukraine aid to the country helping with investigations into Democrats. 

Trump also set off alarm bells among Democrats and some national security professionals when he announced that Grenell will be his second acting director of national intelligence since Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsBiden soars as leader of the free world Lobbying world President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him MORE, who was easily confirmed by the Senate, stepped down last year.

Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireRetired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts Wells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones MORE has served in the role since August but is required by law to leave the position by March 12.
 
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump erupted at the acting director of national intelligence over concerns about Maguire's staff's loyalty.
 
Trump decided against nominating Maguire for the post on a permanent basis after learning a member of his staff, Shelby Pierson, gave a classified briefing on Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee regarding election security, people familiar with the matter told the Post.
 
During the briefing, intelligence officials warned House lawmakers that Russia is interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get Trump reelected, The New York Times reported Thursday.
 
Some Republicans have defended Grenell, but others — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's climate plans can cut emissions and also be good politics Acting Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia As Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNorth Carolina — still purple but up for grabs North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report MORE (R-N.C.) — have been radio silent on his appointment, even while releasing statements praising Maguire.
 
Schumer, on Monday, called the decision to oust Maguire as "particularly pernicious" and potentially Trump's "most egregious" action.

Trump "replaced him with a political lackey, a yes man, as the head of DNI, where truth must be spoken probably more than in any other place in the government. He has no experience in the intelligence community and is simply known as an acolyte to President Trump," Schumer said.
 
"For the president to install a yes man at the top of the intelligence community, to politicize a part of our government designed to be apolitical, to debase the morale of the brave men and women in the CIA and the NSA, many of whom risk their lives for our safety, it’s a disgrace," Schumer added.