President Donald Trump is tightening his grip on the intelligence community as part of a post-acquittal purge of career officials and political appointees deemed insufficiently loyal, and the abrupt firing of his last intel chief is only the tip of the iceberg, current and former intelligence officials say.

Trump’s decision to replace acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire with a loyalist with no intelligence experience, Ric Grenell, shocked the national security world and has raised questions about who the president will nominate to serve in the post after Grenell’s “acting” status expires next month. In India, Trump hinted that his decision would come soon.

But it also revealed a deeper trend: namely, the steps Trump has taken to shield the public from intelligence that could be politically damaging for him, and keep the flow of information coming out of the agencies firmly under his control.

Maguire and several of his deputies were reportedly fired because an official in his office, election security expert Shelby Pierson, briefed Congress without Trump’s knowledge on Russia’s ongoing election interference, though the White House is disputing that version of events. The NSA, CIA, and Pentagon have been urged by the White House not to share information about Russia and Ukraine with lawmakers, while the “Gang of Eight” senior members of Congress were bypassed leading up to at least one major intelligence operation. And intelligence community leaders have backed out of the public portion of the annual worldwide threats hearing, fearing Trump’s wrath if their assessments don’t align with his.

“We have an enemy of the United States that is conducting information warfare against us and our executive leadership doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want the Congress to hear it, and doesn’t want the people to hear it,” said former acting DNI David Gompert, who said he was “aghast” at the hiring of Grenell. “We now have a situation where the principal objective, evidently, of this acting DNI is to ensure that information about Russian interference and Russian preference for this particular president does not get out.”

The purge of the nation’s chief intelligence overseer was swift, and emblematic of Trump’s determination to hastily quash any hint of disloyalty: Maguire had been telling staff just days before his ouster that he believed he could be nominated to serve as permanent director, according to a former senior intelligence official. He then learned about his firing from reporters reaching out for comment before publication, and had to call national security adviser Robert O’Brien to confirm that he’d been replaced by Grenell.

O’Brien denied on Sunday that Maguire’s firing was tied to the briefing. “Admiral Maguire’s time as the acting DNI was up in a week or two,” O’Brien told ABC. “We were looking for someone who was Senate-confirmed under the Vacancy Act. We needed a Senate-confirmed official to come in and replace him. And so we went with a highly qualified person, Ambassador Grenell.“

Maguire’s chief of staff, Viraj Mirani, and DNI principal executive Andrew Hallman, were also both told to leave their positions immediately on orders from the White House, said two former intelligence officials, despite offering to stay on board and help with Grenell’s transition. Mirani, who was chief of staff for Dan Coats when he was DNI and in his Senate office, has stayed at the agency and is considering his career options.

Hallman, who was at DNI in a temporary capacity, has returned to the CIA, according to an intelligence official, who also said that it’s “business as usual” at Langley and the agency is looking forward to working with Grenell.

Grenell, for his part, quickly brought in another Trump loyalist, Kash Patel, to serve as a senior adviser at ODNI. Patel played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans try to discredit the Russia probe.

“He’s been in all the meetings,” an intelligence official said, referring to Patel, who traveled with the president on his trip to India this week.

Despite his reputation as a partisan gunslinger, in his early meetings at DNI, Grenell has been “very kind to everybody,” “very open-minded” and is “very curious but wanting to learn and understand things,” according to the official. He has asked staffers: “Tell me about this” or “explain this issue.”

“People are impressed that he wants to learn,” the official said, with the caveat that “change is hard.”

The president’s rocky relationship with the intelligence community and desire to purge the agencies of those deemed “anti-Trump” certainly predate Maguire’s firing. Trump has long railed against the so-called “deep state,” accusing civil servants of plotting a “coup” to overthrow him and pointing to the FBI probe of his campaign team’s Russia contacts as evidence of an underlying conspiracy to weaken his presidency.

His attacks on senior intelligence officials appear to have had, at minimum, a chilling effect. In January, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on behalf of the larger clandestine community, told lawmakers that they wanted to cancel the public portion of an annual briefing on the globe’s greatest security threats.

The reason? Trump’s outburst last year when the agency chiefs’ assessments differed from his own. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he tweeted at the time. This year, ODNI did not want the senior officials to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea, sources told POLITICO.

Over the last six months, Trump’s impulse to manipulate the flow of intelligence appears to have grown stronger, current and former officials say. One former U.S. official, who wished to remain anonymous, noted that prior to Trump’s acquittal, the intelligence community spent the last few months negotiating with the White House over what information about Ukraine, relevant to the impeachment investigation, could be provided to Congress.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has complained openly about the CIA and NSA’s supposed capitulation to White House demands that certain intelligence not be provided to lawmakers.

“The intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine,” Schiff said last month. “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin,” an intelligence committee official said later.

The NSA was initially providing the requested information as part of normal congressional oversight, the former U.S. official said. But the situation became increasingly untenable as O’Brien, the national security adviser, urged the agency to at least temporarily hold back and wait to see what the CIA pushed to produce. Ultimately, the agency produced nothing—and NSA turned off the faucet, too.

The agencies are now gearing up for a fight over the reauthorization of key aspects of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the intelligence community to obtain surveillance warrants against foreign spies and agents suspected of operating within the U.S.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump, who’s railed against FISA because of how the FBI used it to surveil an adviser on his campaign team, would threaten to get rid of it altogether if there weren’t serious reforms proposed to the law, according to people familiar with a closed-door meeting Mulvaney had with national security and other top officials in the late summer of last year. Since FISA is a statute, only Congress could actually get rid of it.

An Inspector General report outlining more than a dozen factual errors and omissions in the FBI’s FISA warrant application to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page was released in December, renewing calls among Trump’s allies and civil liberties groups to reform the FISA process. FBI Director Chris Wray called the failures “unacceptable,” but emphasized in congressional testimony earlier this month that “we need those FISA authorities. We need the agility to stay ahead of the threat or we’re all going to regret it.”

Wray’s defense of FISA is emblematic of how most intelligence officials view the tool. Prior to the IG report’s release, national security officials had been pushing for “a straight-line reauthorization” of section 215 of FISA, which allows the government to obtain a secret court order requiring third parties to hand over any records or other “tangible thing” deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation.

Mulvaney told the officials that they had to package the renewal push in simple terms while acknowledging the political realities of Trump’s personal skepticism about FISA, said two people who were at the meeting. The takeaway for one of the people was that Trump “had no sense of how valuable this statute is to American security,” and only viewed the tool through the lens of how it had affected his presidential campaign.

The feeling isn’t baseless: On Jan. 11, 2018, Trump almost derailed a vote on warrantless FISA surveillance that had been endorsed by his administration when he tweeted that the authorities had been used “to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign.”

Another person familiar with the meeting denied that Trump simply wanted to throw FISA “out the window.” But he acknowledged that the push for its reauthorization had to be dealt with delicately because of the president’s personal animus toward the tool and strong belief that he’d been “wronged” by it.

“How could we go to him and say everything is great with FISA?” this person said. “What fucking moron thinks we’re going to walk into the Oval and say, ‘we just need a straight run reauthorization of FISA’? I mean, are you fucking kidding me?’”

Former DNI Dan Coats learned that the hard way. On his way out the door last August, Coats told Congress in a letter sanctioned by then-national security adviser John Bolton that the administration supported “the permanent reauthorization” of the surveillance provisions in the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act. Current and former intelligence officials said Coats got a verbal lashing from Mulvaney over the letter.

“Mulvaney thought it wasn’t properly coordinated,” said one of the officials, and Trump wasn’t happy about it. But Mulvaney ultimately got the president on board, “and it was resolved within a day or two,” the official said.

It’s not clear who will be able to “hold the line” for the intelligence community, as one former CIA official put it, as Trump increasingly surrounds himself with loyalists. CIA Director Gina Haspel has managed to stay on the president’s good side, but former agency officials worry that she has become too close to the president to push back on his worst impulses.

Her attendance at Trump’s State of the Union address last month—and her decision to stand and clap at certain lines—surprised former senior intelligence officials who say the agency director should consistently appear nonpartisan. And a briefing she and other intelligence officials gave to lawmakers after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani—conducted without the prior notification of the Gang of Eight House and Senate leaders who are traditionally briefed on highly sensitive intelligence—was lambasted by both parties as “evasive” and “unsatisfactory.”

One of Trump’s top allies, Attorney General Bill Barr, is now investigating the CIA’s conclusions about Russia’s motivations for interfering in the 2016 election. Skeptical of the agency’s finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to help Trump win, Barr and a prosecutor he appointed, John Durham, have been digging through CIA records and questioning U.S. allies about the underlying intelligence.

Grenell’s appointment has done little to alleviate concerns that Trump is trying to bring the intelligence community even further under his control.

“Obviously he’s not there to lead the intelligence community,” former director of national intelligence James Clapper said of Grenell. “He’s there, I believe, for two purposes: a purge and to get ‘control,’ and I use air quotes here, of the intelligence community.”

Still, another former senior intelligence official said that’s easier said than done. The IC employees are “apprehensive,” he said. But “they’re quietly determined to speak truth to power, knowing the considerable potential pitfalls that can result from not doing that.”