Trump names Richard Grenell acting national intelligence director

Feb. 20 (UPI) — President Donald Trump has named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting director of national intelligence.

Trump named Grenell the new DNI on Wednesday, saying he represents the United States “exceedingly well.”

“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,” the White House said in a statement Thursday.

“He is committed to a non-political, non-partisan approach as head of the intelligence community, on which our safety and security depend. The president has every confidence that Ambassador Grenell will perform his new duties with distinction.”

In naming Grenell, Trump thanked current DNI Joe Maguire for doing a “wonderful job” in the post, and suggested he may be headed for another administration position.

“It has been an honor to work alongside the men and women of the intelligence community,” Maguire said.

Grenell, ambassador to Germany since May 2018, will be the second acting director of national intelligence since Dan Coats resigned from the position last August. Trump initially appointed John Ratcliffe, who later withdrew his name from consideration amid criticism he was unqualified for the position.

The director of national intelligence position was formed following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to oversee the government’s 17 spy agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, derided Trump’s selection of Grenell because he lacks “any intelligence experience.” He noted that Grenell is Trump’s second appointed acting director since Coats’ resignation and accused the president of attempting to “sidestep” the Senate’s authority to advise and consent.

“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,” Warner said in a statement. “At a time when the integrity and independence of the [Department of Justice] has been called into grave question, 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.”

Grenell, who will become the first openly gay member of Trump’s administration, has been a vocal supporter of the president’s and defended him against the criticisms.

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