President Donald Trump on Wednesday appointed Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, as acting director of national intelligence.
Grenell, who will be the nation’s first openly gay presidential cabinet secretary, is a far-right Trump loyalist and “Twitter troll” who has never worked for an intelligence agency.
Mediaite reports: A former Fox News contributor, [Grenell] is known to be a fierce online warrior, who has been unafraid to parrot the Trump line and lecture his host country, so much so that they called on the White House to recall him from his ambassador post in Berlin. News of Grenell’s appointment to a critical, nonpartisan cabinet post unleashed a fierce backlash online, as many critics criticized his notable lack of national security experience as well as his unapologetically brash partisan attacks.
More from the Associated Press: The move drew immediate criticism from Democrats who said the job should be held by someone with deep intelligence experience. It also puts a Trump loyalist in charge of an intelligence community that the president has routinely disparaged and ignored, notably in the context of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Grenell, who prefers the nickname “Ric,” served for two years as the top U.S. envoy to Germany and before that as the spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations during most of President George W. Bush’s eight years in office. But immediately before taking the ambassador’s post in Berlin, Grenell was known mainly as an online media critic and conservative Fox News foreign policy analyst.
CNN adds: One source close to Trump told CNN they were surprised by the pick, noting Grenell has zero intelligence-related experience. And another Trump adviser described Grenell as “out of his league” for the acting DNI job, adding that some in the administration are “embarrassed by his behavior.” Previous holders of the DNI job have served in the intelligence community, the US Senate and senior levels of the military. Grenell, on the other hand, does not boast a resume with similar credentials despite his stint as the US ambassador to Germany. “Everybody came into (the DNI job) with a relevant understanding, of which this guy has none,” said Bob Litt, former ODNI general counsel, who called the move “extremely dangerous.”