","sameAs":[]}]}
February 19, 2020 at 5:08 pm PST | by Chris Johnson
Trump names Grenell as director of intelligence
Ric Grenell, Richard Grenell, gay news, Washington Blade
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is expected to become acting director of national intelligence. (Photo public domain)

President Trump announced on Wednesday he has named Richard Grenell, who was the highest-ranking openly gay member of his administration, as acting director of intelligence.

The move puts Grenell — now the U.S. Ambassador to Germany — in charge of overseeing U.S. intelligence agencies and advising Trump and the national security adviser on measures related to national security.

Grenell arguably will be the most senior openly gay official of any administration in U.S. history, although as an appointee in an acting role, his job would technically be temporary and wouldn’t require Senate approval, so his claim to that distinction is dubious.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took issue with Grenell in a statement, saying Trump’s pick lacks experience and sidesteps the confirmation process.

“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,” Warner said. “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.”

Angering many in Germany, Grenell has built a reputation for his combative style as a diplomat. Just this week, Grenell singled out in a series of three tweets targeted European politicians for complaining about the Trump’s administration’s approaches to NATO and the European Union.

The appointment of Grenell, a Trump loyalist, would be a change from former DNI director Dan Coats, who had a frosty relationship with Trump. 

Coats, for example, went on the record to contradict Trump after a widely panned performance in 2018 during a joint news conference with Russian Vladimir Putin. After a meeting with Putin, Trump undermined assessments Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but later recanted. Coats stepped down from the role in the months that followed.

Highly critical of the decision to name Grenell as head of intelligence was Samantha Power, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration.

In his capacity as U.S. ambassador to Germany, Grenell has spearheaded an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in the more than 70 countries around the world where it remains illegal. Earlier this year, he held an event at the United Nations on the initiative and named each of those countries, although other human rights groups in attendance were dubious about the Trump administration’s initiative.

Grenell, who had concurrently served as U.S. envoy for Serbia-Kosovo peace negotiations, is also credited with helping to negotiate with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci the first steps in the creation of a presidential commission on LGBTQ rights.

It remains to be seen what the state of the global initiative to decriminalize will be in the aftermath of Grenell’s appointment as head of U.S. intelligence.

Closely tied to Grenell is Log Cabin Republicans, which praised news Grenell would be appointed to the senior role on Twitter.

Trump reportedly has an affinity for Grenell, whose name has repeatedly come up in news reports as a possible picks for more senior roles in the administration. Grenell reportedly was on the short list for Trump’s choices as the next national security adviser and secretary of state.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

© Copyright Los Angeles Blade, LLC. 2020. All rights reserved.