After a Wednesday night tweet from the president, the White House confirmed Thursday morning that the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, will take over as the acting director of national intelligence.
Grenell, a staunch Trump ally and defender who previously worked for President George W. Bush‘s administration, is believed to be the first openly gay man in a cabinet-level position, The New York Times reported.
President Donald Trump announced the news on Wednesday night on Twitter, while the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, made an official statement the next morning.
“I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence,” Trump, 73, wrote. “Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him.”
Grenell’s role as “acting” director means he will only be able to serve in the role for a maximum of 210 days, according to NPR.
He will also continue to hold his ambassadorship while he serves in his new role.
Critics were quick to point out that Grenell, 53, has no intelligence experience to bring to the position.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, voiced his displeasure on Twitter late Wednesday night.
“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…,” Warner wrote in a five-part thread blasting the president’s decision to pick Grenell. (The DNI position was created post-9/11 and several of its appointees had a military background.)
“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges,” Warner continued on Twitter. “And at a time when the integrity and independence of the DOJ has been called into grave question, our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the President.”
Grenell has long been a vocal defender of Trump’s foreign policies, including the president’s controversial arguments that Germany isn’t paying enough into the international NATO alliance.
“It is offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayers continue to pay for more than 50,000 Americans in Germany but the Germans get to spend their (budget) surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told German news outlet DPA last August.
Trump allies took to social media to tout the president history-making choice
“Fifty years ago a gay man or woman couldn’t work in the intelligence community,” wrote Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. “Today President Trump is appointing an openly gay man to serve as Acting Director of National Intelligence. Congratulations, Ambassador @RichardGrenell.”
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