Schiff defends hiring from administration as Trump feud deepens

The head of the House Intelligence Committee is defending his decision to hire former administration staffers to serve on the panel, saying it is part of a long tradition to hire from the intelligence community.

Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? Schiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' MORE (D-Calif.) offered the remarks amid a deepening feud with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE, who earlier in the day tweeted that Schiff was "stealing people who work at the White House" to work on his "witch hunt."

"We have a long tradition of hiring out of the intelligence community, the National Security Council (NSC)," Schiff said. "And if the president is worried about our hiring any former administration people, maybe he should work on being a better employer."

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A congressional source told The Hill that the committee has hired Abigail Grace, a former NSC staffer.

Grace has a background in examining China-related matters, such as Beijing's approach to foreign policy and multilateralism, according to her biography at the Center for New American Security.

The biography says Grace served as a member of the NSC staff from 2016-2018, which spans across both the Obama and Trump administrations. 

It's unclear whether she is the only person Intelligence has hired who previously had been in the Trump administration. 

After Democrats won the House majority, they gained control of congressional panels. This also gave them a bigger budget and the ability to hire additional staff, since majority staff on congressional panels are larger than minority staffs. 

It is not uncommon for career government workers to move back and forth between administrative and congressional jobs, though it is less common for that to happen between a Republican administration and a Democratic Congress. But the shift in the control of Congress did cause many new jobs to suddenly become open, given the new Democratic majority.

Trump in his tweet accused Dems of going "nuts."

"Even stealing people who work at White House! A continuation of Witch Hunt!" he tweeted Thursday morning.

Schiff and Trump have been at odds all week.

Trump, during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, implicitly warned Democrats against ramping up their investigations, suggesting that doing so would endanger the economy.

Schiff on Wednesday announced new investigations into Trump's finances that go beyond Russia. 

Trump later on Wednesday ridiculed Schiff, and at one point suggested he did not know who he was. Last year, Trump sent out a tweet about "little Adam Schitt," underscoring tensions between the two men.

As ranking member on Intelligence, Schiff was a frequent presence on cable television where he often criticized Trump's politics and the controversies surrounding his administration.