President Donald Trump’s decision to have U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell serve as his acting director of national intelligence (DNI) drew enthusiastic support on Friday from a range of grassroots activists and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.
Shortly after the White House announced the pick, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hailed Grenell as “a great choice,” tweeting, “Ric has a proven track record of fighting for our country, and now, he will work every day to make sure Americans are safe.”
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Politico, “If you’re ambassador for some time in a country like Germany, you have a lot of exposure to intel activities and daily briefings and other things, and he’s a very smart, capable guy.”
Trump touted the Grenell appointment on Wednesday in a tweet: “I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Ric has represented our country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him.”
Grenell has served as ambassador to Germany since May 8, 2018, and has earned high marks for advancing the president’s agenda in Europe on increasing NATO spending, stopping Russia’s planned gas pipeline and curtailing business support for Iran.
Among the other notable figures aggressively defending the Grenell choice:
- Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, who previously worked for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., hailed the Grenell appointment as a “great pick,” tweeting, “As US ambassador to the country with the largest economy in the EU, Grenell has a ton of successful experience coordinating intel and national security policy.”
- · Lori Hendry, a conservative favorite with over 310,000 Twitter followers, declared: “Great choice! Congrats Richard!”
- Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, tweeted out his congratulations, saying, “He has been a great ambassador and I am confident he will do a great job in his new role.”
- John Noonan, the national security analyst and commentator who advised GOP presidential contender and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, praised Grenell as “sharp and competent.” In response to criticisms from the left, Noonan tweeted, “Susan Rice went from UN Ambassador to National Security Advisor, but Ambassador to Germany to ODNI is somehow out of bounds?”
- Tom Fitton, president of the Judicial Watch group that works to expose government corruption and wrongdoing, tweeted that the appointment was “great news.” “Richard Grenell has a lot of work to do,” he tweeted. “ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] is a mess and obsessed with defending the Obama/Clinton gang while pushing the Russiagate smears against Trump.”
- Jake Novak, a CNBC columnist who served as executive producer of the Kudlow Report, noted that Grenell has demonstrated “a unique ability to defend Trump’s policies in clear terms,” adding that “Trump has found his ultimate tweeting wingman.”
As widely noted on social media, Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz came to Grenell’s defense on "The View" on Thursday when co-host Joy Behar questioned his qualifications.
“On Ric’s qualifications,” Gaetz remarked, “eight years at the U.N., two years in Germany, he advised the security council, and Berlin where he was active is one of the hotbeds of intelligence activity -- nothing happens there without the chief of station and the ambassador working together -- so Ric Grennell is very qualified.”
Grenell will oversee 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the DIA, the FBI’s intelligence branch, the NSA, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the National Reconnaissance office.
Grenell is the ninth director of national intelligence. The office was created in 2004 as a post-9/11 reform intended to improve information sharing and analysis within the intelligence community.
He takes over Joseph Maguire, who was praised by Trump when he announced Grenell’s appointment “for the wonderful job he has done.”
On Friday, Trump tweeted that “four great candidates” are under consideration for the permanent DNI job.
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