Opinion - Politics

Op-Ed: Think Trump is tough on Twitter? Meet Ambassador Richard Grenell

Key Points
  • Trump has found his ultimate tweeting wingman in U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
  • As followers of Grenell's Twitter feed already know, it's a strong source of condensed and contentious pro-Trump arguments.
  • Grenell may be a top diplomat, but there's very little that's diplomatic about his bare-fisted approach on Twitter.
U.S. envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell speaks during a joint press conference held with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (not seen) following their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia on January 24, 2020.
Milos Miskov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

When it comes to members of the Trump administration, Twitter giveth and Twitter taketh away.

Most of the political wags and the news media have focused on the downside of President Trump's Twitter presence since 2015. They've refused to see how Trump justifiably feels the need to bypass a highly critical news media and communicate directly with the public.

But for Trump's appointees and other staffers, the president's tweets can be a major problem. Attorney General William Barr openly complained last week about how Trump's tweets about ongoing investigations and prosecutions make it "impossible" to do his job.

Yet while Twitter is clearly a problem for Barr, Trump has found his ultimate tweeting wingman in U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell. As followers of Grenell's Twitter feed already know, it's a strong source of condensed and contentious pro-Trump arguments. That includes getting into some sharper-tongued tussles online in a way not all that different from Trump's own nasty social media encounters.

Grenell may be a top diplomat, but there's very little that's diplomatic about his bare-fisted approach on Twitter.

Grenell's personal story makes his conspicuous Twitter presence an even bigger asset to the White House. As the highest ranking openly gay member of the Trump administration, Grenell proves he's far from an example of tokenism with every statement and slamming tweet.

He's clearly a part of the team, not just for show, as he's taken an aggressive lead role in the administration's battle to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.

Grenell also has a long history of more aggressive online behaviors, something that emerged during his brief and tumultuous tenure as the foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

Grenell may be a top diplomat, but there's very little that's diplomatic about his more bare-fisted approach on Twitter.

Most ambassadors are hardly known even to the D.C. press corps, let alone the general American public. But Grenell is cut from the same cloth as the Disruptor-in-Chief himself.

Now, enter Grenell's latest series of Twitter takedowns. In three tweets Grenell posted Monday, the ambassador singled out European politicians for their complaints about the Trump administration's disruptive approaches to NATO and E.U. policy.

Grenell chided all of them for, in his view, denying the U.S. the right to push back on Europe's underfunding of its own defense and continuing to deal unfairly with America in its trade policies.

You can see by the above tweets that while Grenell's aggressiveness comes through, so too does his unique ability to defend Trump's policies in clear terms. Trump may speak even more bluntly, but when an experienced foreign policy expert like Grenell processes them through his own Twitter machine, it seems to add heft to every point.

There's another invaluable service Grenell is doing for Trump in this election year. Right now, it's still vital for Trump to prove he remains an innovator, outsider, and a fighter against the status quo. That's usually a tall order for incumbent presidents running for re-election, who logically can often be considered the ultimate insiders after four years in the highest office in the land.

In many ways, the just-wrapped impeachment push against Trump from within Washington is helping him make the case that he's still far from an establishment politician.

But don't underestimate Grenell's actions and how they play a similar role. Having someone in what's usually one of the most establishment-friendly positions in politics still punching away right along with Trump is always eye-catching, even after the 100th, 1,000th, or 10,000th time it happens.

Also don't forget the matter at hand. Trump's efforts to reduce American military obligations overseas are a naturally bipartisan and winning issue… if he can pull it off.

There's been progress in the push to get European nations to pay more for NATO, but reducing U.S. troop deployments in Europe and many other parts of the world has been a much tougher task.

The desire to bring more troops home always meets with enormous pushback, something we saw when Trump attempted to withdraw even the relatively tiny number of American soldiers in Syria.

Similarly, the recent truce agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban may or may not last very long. But either way, it's not going to be easy to bring American troops home from our longest war under any circumstances.

The Trump dream of getting our NATO allies to shoulder more financial and fighting burdens is going to take more hard pressure and even targeted embarrassment. That's a job Richard Grenell was born to do.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.