Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay official in Donald Trump’s administration, was named acting director of national intelligence by the president today.
The appointment is temporary, so Grenell will continue to serve as ambassador. His new job will place him as head of 17 intelligence agencies and require him to provide daily briefs to Trump.
Grenell's deep devotion to Trump, as well as limited experience in the intelligence community, has not endeared Grenell to many Democrats.
"It appears the President has selected an individual *without any intelligence experience* to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
Grenell is the nation’s first openly LGBTQ Cabinet member. A conservative, he’s not necessarily popular with LGBTQ people — or women or Germans. He denounced gay Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg for calling out Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-LGBTQ record; the idea that Pence is homophobic is a “hoax,” Grenell said. He is known for insulting powerful women, such as Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow, based on their appearance; he had claimed he was trying to be funny. And he has offended Germans with his criticism of the nation’s foreign and domestic policies, to the extent that some German politicians have said he should be recalled from his ambassadorial position.
“The German government has complained about Grenell’s aggressive style, but that’s actually a selling point for Trump,” The Washington Post has noted.
Grenell is in charge of the Trump administration’s effort to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide (even as the administration enacts anti-LGBTQ policies in the U.S.), although the president himself seemed oddly unaware of the project when questioned about it last year. Grenell hosted an event to highlight the initiative at the United Nations in December. In another pro-LGBTQ move, he authorized the flying of the rainbow flag at the U.S. embassy in Germany last summer for Berlin Pride, apparently in defiance of a Trump order not to display the flag on official flagpoles at embassies.