Former acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard Grenell is slated to speak at the Republican National Convention this week, in support of President Trump’s reelection. Here are some fast facts on who he is and how he is connected to the commander-in-chief.
Grenell, 53, was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 2018 and two years later was tapped by the president to be a part of his cabinet as intelligence director, tasked with overseeing 17 spy agencies including the FBI, CIA, and NSA.
He was appointed in an “acting” capacity in February 2020, temporarily avoiding the need for Senate confirmation. The former State Department official and communications executive is the first openly gay member of Trump’s cabinet.
He’s been connected to the president and served as an ad hoc adviser on issues beyond his diplomatic work, while vocally supporting Trump on social media.
Part of his work involved spearheading a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality throughout the world.
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Grenell, who was born in Jenison, Mich., lives with his partner, Matt Lashey. He attended Evangel University, in Springfield, Mo., and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is the longest-serving U.S. spokesman and political appointee at the UN in history having served from 2001-2008, while also working under former President George W. Bush and later, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
He was involved in a recent congressional probe involving former NSA adviser Michael Flynn earlier this year but ultimately declined an invitation by Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky., to testify on the issue. Paul sought more information from Grenell after he declassified documents that alleged the Obama administration spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign and his presidential transition team.
Grenell also commented on Trump’s demeanor while speaking to Breitbart News this week, highlighting the president’s personal dislike for identity politics.
“[Trump] doesn’t play identity politics,” he said. “You know, somebody recently asked me how many gays and lesbians work in the Trump administration. I had to answer, ‘I have no idea. I really don’t know.’ This person said to me, ‘Well, there you go — that’s the reason — because we had 2,410 in the Obama administration, the Obama-Biden administration.’ I said, ‘I’d be pretty offended that I was on a list that says here’s our gay and lesbian list.”
Grenell added, “Thank God we don’t keep a list. Thank God we don’t hire people because they come out of a box and say ‘here is a Black, here is a Hispanic, here is a gay person.’ President Trump, I know him well, he doesn’t care about these types of issues. They’re irrelevant characterizations about someone. What is relevant is whether or not they can do the job.”
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After his stint as DNI, Grenell announced he would not be returning to his post as ambassador to Germany and was replaced by Rep. John Ratcliffe. He is scheduled to speak at the GOP convention on Wednesday evening.