President Donald Trump is expected to install Richard Grenell, his current Ambassador to Germany, as his next Acting Director of National Intelligence, according to The New York Times. Grenell is known as a bombastic Trump loyalist who has not been well received in Berlin.
Some eyebrows are being raised, not due to Grenell’s harsh attitudes but his disturbing lack of qualifications for the job of Director of National Intelligence, also known as the DNI.
The DNI is a Cabinet-level official who sits at the very top of the entire Intelligence Community, serving as the head of the 17 federal agencies that comprise it. They also serve as the President’s chief advisor on national security, and produce the top-secret President’s Daily Brief (PDB).
Federal law states quite clearly, “Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.”
Ambassador to Germany does not qualify. Grenell previously has served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He has run a public affairs consultancy, has been a Fox News contributor, and for a few days was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security spokesperson, but was forced to step down after conservatives blasted the former governor over Grenell’s sexual orientation.
In November the german magazine Der Spiegel ran a damning profile of Grenell titled, “Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany.” (Ironically, one of the reasons Trump gave for firing his venerated Ambassador to Ukraine was that she was not well-liked in the country, which was false.)
“Since arriving in Berlin as U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell has flouted diplomatic conventions and attempted to interfere in domestic politics. He has since become politically isolated in the German capital,” Der Spiegel reported.
In the extremely “unflattering” article, Grenell is compared to “a right-wing extremist colonial officer.”
“The powerful avoid him. Doors have been shut. Few politicians to the left of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AFD) and the populist-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), want to be seen with him.”
It gets worse.
Der Spiegel writes they spoke with 30 sources before publishing their report.
“Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others.”
All that aside, again, Grenell is not qualified, neither by law nor by common sense.
Some experts agree:
Reminder: Jim Clapper spent 50 years in intelligence, headed two agencies, and served as the Under Sec of intel at the Pentagon before becoming DNI. Ric Grenell was … a notably rude Twitter troll. https://t.co/ST1adUqJJR
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) February 19, 2020
This is a national disgrace. Grenell would be the least qualified intelligence chief in US history. https://t.co/WliTv6DHTe
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) February 19, 2020
Because Grenell is Senate-confirmed (as Ambassador to Germany), the President has the authority to name him Acting DNI under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
Of course, there’d be no reason not to _nominate_ him to be the actual DNI if he were actually qualified for the job… https://t.co/PGNShWGzXp
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) February 19, 2020
The moron running the country is about to appoint the least qualified intelligence director in history – by a wide margin. A move guaranteed to make us less safe as a country. https://t.co/EovNSPvU70
— Josh Moon (@Josh_Moon) February 19, 2020
Apart from questions about Grenell’s qualifications, temperament and relevant experience for this role, the move also raises questions about the Worldwide Threat Assessment – how soon would a brand new, acting DNI present an annual threat assessment before Congress
— Olivia Gazis (@Olivia_Gazis) February 19, 2020
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