Loyal to the Chief
February 20, 2020

President Trump confirmed Wednesday night that he is appointing Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, as acting director of national intelligence. Current acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who would have had to step down by March 12 because he lacked Senate confirmation, "was blindsided by the news," The Washington Post reports, as were many people in the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill. Grenell will take responsibility for America's 17 intelligence agencies on Thursday, The New York Times reports.

Trump isn't expected to nominate Grenell for the job, so he can hold the office for only 210 days under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Grenell has no real intelligence experience and has never run a large bureaucracy. His most relevant experience to head the U.S. intelligence community are his two-year ambassadorship and long stint as spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. Before Trump sent him to Berlin, "Grenell was known mainly as an online media critic and conservative Fox News foreign policy analyst," The Associated Press reports. One administration official told AP that "Grenell was named in an acting capacity because Trump wanted him in quickly and there were doubts about whether he could be confirmed in the job."

Director of national intelligence is "a job considered to be among the most nonpartisan in Washington," the Times notes. By picking Grenell, Trump is signaling "he wants a trusted, aggressive leader atop an intelligence community that he has long viewed with suspicion and at times gone to war against," and "the list of people with the requisite experience who have not been critical of the president is slim." Also, Grenell will be the first openly gay member of Trump's Cabinet, its third Fox News contributor, and, along with U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft, the second Cabinet member who is a "Gold" level member of the Trump Organization's Trump Card loyalty program. Peter Weber

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