President Trump’s pick of Ambassador Ric Grenell as acting Deputy Director of National Intelligence has excited conservatives and outraged Democrats.
Trump announced Wednesday he was naming Grenell to the post via Twitter, after it was first reported by the New York Times:
….for the wonderful job he has done, and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listed some of his top credentials in a statement on Thursday:
Today, the President designated United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as Acting Director of National Intelligence. 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. 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.
Grenell is also a Harvard University graduate who advised Mitt Romney on foreign policy during his 2012 campaign. He is also the first openly gay cabinet member in U.S. history.
House Minority Leader Keven McCarthy praised his pick, as did other House Republicans:
President Trump made a great choice to name @RichardGrenell as America’s next Acting Director of National Intelligence. Ric has a proven track record of fighting for our country, and now, he will work every day to make sure Americans are safe. https://t.co/Gzajq5vQUt
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 20, 2020
Congratulations to Ambassador @RichardGrenell for being named as the Acting Director of National Intelligence. He’s been a fantastic ambassador and I am confident he will do a great job in his new role.
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) February 20, 2020
A great Patrot, exceptional Ambassador, and amazing selection to be the US’ next Acting Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador @RichardGrenell! Congratulations!!
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) February 19, 2020
But news of his appointment triggered Democrats, who portrayed Grenell as being unqualified.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chair of the Intelligence Committee, called Grenell “an individual without any intelligence experience.” The Obama administration’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, tweeted that Grenell has “politicized every issue he has touched.” Actress and activist Mia Farrow tweeted that his appointment was “SCARY”:
New acting Dir of National Intelligence Ric Grenell has zero experience in the intel community or the military. His experience is in Fox News and thats SCARY
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) February 19, 2020
National Security Action, an organization founded by former Obama administration national security officials, claimed that the appointment was “the latest example of Trump placing his own personal interests ahead of the national interest” — an accusation that was leveled at Trump over his wanting Ukraine to investigate corruption involving Democrats and the Bidens.
And American Oversight, a group that began investigating the Trump administration’s handling of Ukraine even before the impeachment effort began, tweeted that it has already put in a request to see who Grenell has been meeting with as ambassador to Germany.
The President is expected to name political loyalist Ric Grenell to be the new Director or National Intelligence.
— American Oversight (@weareoversight) February 20, 2020
Grenell’s being seen as a “loyalist,” however, comes as a big relief to his supporters, especially after an impeachment effort that began when a CIA analyst, alleged to be Eric Ciaramella, filed a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general based on complaints from other officials.
Jim Hanson, president of the Security Studies Group, said on Fox Business Live on Wednesday:
I love Ric Grenell, I think this is a fantastic move by the president. He’s had so much trouble with people in the intelligence community undermining him and leaking to the press, and all these things. He needs someone sitting atop that giant mess making sure the intelligence community supports the president’s intelligence, goals, and U.S. policy. Ric Grenell will do that.
Fox Business Live host Lou Dobbs added:
I agree. Ric Grenell has been throughout loyal to the president, outspoken, fiercely an advocate of the United States and our interests in Europe without compromise. I have to say my hat’s off to him for the way he’s performed in Germany, and I think he’ll be, as do you and I’m delighted to hear you say that, a great DNI.
Many other conservative figures weighed in on support for Grenell:
– Longest serving spox for U.S. at UN
– Most successful Ambassador to Germany
– Harvard grad
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) February 20, 2020
Would the critics of @RichardGrenell appointment, calling him unqualified etc, please list alongside their critique, their experience as senior UN official (Grenell 7 years) or as Amb to major ally (Grenell 2 years) major diplomatic achievement (Kosovo-Serbia agreement) or
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 20, 2020
The idea that Grenell isn’t qualified is absurdly laughable, but giving voice to it serves as handy diagnostic tool for #TDS. One of those moments where Twitter reveals so much about the individual posting and nothing about the subject he or she is posting about.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 20, 2020