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Donald Trump just appointed his first openly gay cabinet member

Josh Milton February 20, 2020

Richard Grenell is thought to be the first openly gay cabinet member in the Trump administration. Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

US president Donald Trump Wednesday appointed Richard Grenell, the gay ambassador to Germany and staunch loyalist, as acting head of intelligence.

Grenell takes the position over from former US Navy admiral, Joseph Maguire, who himself was there acting director since Dan Coats’ vacated from the role in August last year.

The president’s pick was announced by Trump on Twitter, bringing into the cabinet its first openly gay secretary. One who once promised to push decriminalising homosexuality across the globe.

Trump tweeted: “I am pleased to announce that our highly respected ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, will become the acting director for National Intelligence.

“Rick has represented our country exceedingly well, and I look forward to working with him.

“I would like to thank Joe Maguire for the wonderful job he has done, and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the administration.”

Intelligence directors suspicious of Donald Trump appointing Richard Grenell. 

Yet, the 53-year-old’s ascent to the role – which will see him oversee the nation’s 17 spy agencies and advise the president on national security– is one that signals a clear turn in the Republican president’s cabinet towards trusted loyalists.

Long a part of the president’s inner circle – one earned by tireless campaigning in 2016 and pushing the Trump agenda in Germany – Grenell’s appointment was a surprise considering his lack of experience in intelligence, critics say.

US Ambassador Richard Grenell gets in his car after an accreditation ceremony for new Ambassadors in Berlin, Germany, on May 08, 2018.
Richard Allen Grenell. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

His ambassadorial work saw him trade barbs with German lawmakers as he urged the country not to do to do business with the Chinese telecom giant, Huawei. A company the president has sparred with over matters of intelligence.

Moreover, Trump’s bottomless suspicion of the intelligence community has long been documented, once telling advisors is populated by “Deep State” operatives who “hate Trump”.

By installing an aggressive ally atop the community alongside Trump’s antagonistic relationship with the agencies that try to act as neutral arbiters of facts, has prompted concerns from political pundits.

Some directors have flagged fears that Grenell may colour in bias what intelligence he presents to Trump.

“This is a job requiring leadership, management, substance and secrecy,” said John Sipher, a former CIA officer, to the New York Times.

“He doesn’t have the kind of background and experience we would expect for such a critical position.”

 

More: Donald Trump, richard grenell, US

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