2020-02-20 17:38:50 UTC
Donald Trump's new acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Richard
Grenell is a "gold member" of the "Trump Card" loyalty program, making him the
second high-level member to be granted a prominent government post by the
"I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany,
@RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick
has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with
him," Trump tweeted Wednesday to announce Grenell's new post.
Many in Washington were quick to question Grenell's qualifications to head the
intelligence community. The Washington Post first reported Grenell's status in
the Trump loyalty program, citing internal documents from the Trump
International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which falls under the umbrella of the
Previously, Trump had made Kelly Craft his ambassador to the United Nations.
Craft, like Grenell, has gold status with the Trump Card loyalty program,
according to documents viewed by the Post. The diplomat took on her role at the
United Nations last September after serving for nearly two years as ambassador
"Nothing in Grenell's background suggests that he has the skill set or the
experience to be an effective leader of the intelligence community," Nicholas
Rasmussen, who was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center under
Trump and former President Barack Obama, told the Post. "His chief attribute
seems to be that President Trump views him as unfailingly loyalhardly
sufficient to make someone qualified to perform the duties of the DNI."
Having served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany under Trump since May 2018,
Grenell has been widely seen as staunchly supportive and loyal to the president.
As an ambassador, some German lawmakers called him a "brat"' and "a total
diplomatic failure." Some politicians in Germany even called for his expulsion
last March after he criticized the country's defense spending.
It is unclear whether Trump intends to officially nominate Grenell to be the
permanent director of national intelligence. If so, that would require him to be
formally confirmed by the Senate. While the legislative body is
Republican-controlled, Grenell would likely face tough questions from Democratic
lawmakers about his qualifications.
"Everybody came into [the DNI job] with a relevant understanding, of which this
guy has none," Bob Litt, who previously served as general counsel to the
director of national intelligence, told CNN. He called Trump's decision
"This is a president who has loathed and feared the [intelligence community]
since before he was inaugurated, and he views them as a deep state hostile to
him seeking to undercut him, and he'll seek to undercut them," Litt added.
"Clearly the important thing here is the president feels Grenell will do his