Politics

Trump names Ambassador Richard Grenell acting director of national intelligence

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a fierce defender of the administration's policies, acting director of national intelligence.
  • "I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence," Trump said in a tweet Wednesday.
  • He will take over for Joseph Maguire, who has been in the role following the resignation of Dan Coats last summer.
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

President Donald Trump on Wednesday named U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a fierce defender of the administration's policies, acting director of national intelligence.

The move would make Grenell the head of the U.S. intelligence community, overseeing 17 agencies and organizations.

"I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence," Trump said in a tweet Wednesday.

"Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him."

He will take over for Joseph Maguire, who has been in the role since the resignation of Dan Coats last summer.

His nomination represents the elevation of another Trump loyalist to the top tier of the administration.

"He is committed to a non-political, non-partisan approach as head of the Intelligence Community, on which our safety and security depend," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "The President has every confidence that Ambassador Grenell will perform his new duties with distinction."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the decision to appoint Grenell, saying "Trump has once again put his political interests ahead of American's national security interests."

Trump "has shown his contempt for our Constitution's system of checks and balances by sidestepping the Senate's constitutional authority of confirmation with the installation of another Acting official that he knows cannot be confirmed even in a Republican-controlled Senate," Pelosi said. Grenell was nominating in an acting capacity, meaning that his role will not be confirmed by the Senate. 

Grenell has been heavily criticized for his controversial opinions on Twitter about women, including 2016 Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Grenell is also openly gay and has also used his ambassador role to push for gay rights across the globe.

Grenell has also been a vocal opponent of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. The U.S. has maintained that China's Huawei is a national security risk and that its networking equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage on American citizens. Huawei has repeatedly denied those claims.

On Sunday, Grenell tweeted that Trump had called him and instructed him to "make clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor will jeopardize our ability to share intelligence and information at the highest level."