On the same day President Donald Trump met with Republican supporters in Palm Springs he officially named Richard Grenell, a Palm Springs resident, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, as the acting director of national intelligence.
Trump posted the announcement Wednesday evening on Twitter. He simultaneously thanked Joseph Maguire who has been serving as the acting DNI since Dan Coats resigned Aug. 15.
Grenell, 53, will become the first openly gay member of the cabinet.
In a pair of Tweets, Trump said, “I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him. I would like to thank Joe Maguire for the wonderful job he has done, and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the Administration!”
Despite lawmakers expressing doubt that Grenell has the experience necessary to serve in the nation’s top intelligence post, the White House asserted Thursday that he has “years of experience” working with the Intelligence Community, according to ABC News.
“Today, the President designated United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grishman noted Thursday morning. “Ambassador Grenell was confirmed to his role as Ambassador by the Senate in April 2018, and he has years of experience working with our Intelligence Community in a number of additional positions, including as Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosovo Negotiations and as United States spokesman to the United Nations.”
Grisham added Grenell “is committed to a non-political, non-partisan approach as head of the Intelligence Community” and President Trump “has every confidence that Ambassador Grenell will perform his new duties with distinction.”
Grenell is a Trump loyalist who has served as ambassador in Berlin since May 8, 2018. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 56-42 vote on April 26, 2018.
The Michigan native is also a former spokesman at the United Nations and worked on the 2012 presidential campaign of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized Trump’s selection, contending the president is “flouting the clear intent of Congress when it established the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004.”
“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,” Warner, D-Va., wrote in a statement. “And at a time when the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice has been called into grave question, now more than ever our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the President who has appointed him.”
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the law which created the post, specifies that “Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.”
According to ABC News, on Sept. 14, 2019, Grenell joined the president at the White House for dinner with Fred and Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto Warmbier died shortly after being released from captivity in North Korea in June 2017.
According to his biography posted on the State Department’s website, Grenell received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and completed a bachelor degree at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri.
- Trump Tweets: Twitter
- Richard Grennell: Shutterstock