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Image: United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell attends a reception in Berlin on Jan. 14, 2019.
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell at a reception in Berlin on Jan. 14, 2019.Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa via AP file

Trump's choice for Intel Director called 'a national disgrace'

A notorious online pest has a job: Rick Grenell will oversee the intelligence community of the world's preeminent superpower.


To know anything about Richard Grenell is to know he spent several years annoying people as a prominent internet troll. I generally try to avoid blocking people on Twitter, but even I found Grenell's juvenile antics so grating that I took advantage of the platform's "block" feature.

After one exasperating exchange in 2012, the Washington Post's Dave Weigel asked him, "Shouldn't you eventually get a job and quit trolling people?"

Seven-and-a-half years later, the notorious online pest has a job: Grenell will oversee the intelligence community of the world's preeminent superpower.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday named Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to be the next acting director of national intelligence.... The post is a Cabinet-level position -- the Office of the Director of National Intelligence oversees the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies and is the president's principal adviser on intelligence issues.

Throughout Trump's tenure as president, a variety of observers -- including me -- have marveled at some of the Republican's more ridiculous personnel decisions. We've said on multiple occasions, "This radically unqualified person has no business being chosen for an important governmental post." I fear the assessment has lost some of its potency with repetition.

And that would be a shame because naming Grenell as the director of National Intelligence is bonkers. If there were a competition for the most absurd personnel choice of Trump's presidency, this would have to be at or near the top.

Grenell has never served a day in the intelligence community in any capacity. He held some communications jobs -- Grenell briefly worked on Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, for example -- before Trump tapped him to serve as the ambassador to Germany, where Grenell managed to routinely infuriate our allies in Berlin.

Though Trump yesterday referred to Grenell as "highly respected," the truth is that Grenell was so reviled in his current diplomatic post that some German officials spoke publicly about the possibility of asking him to leave the country.

And did I mention that Grenell was also a relevant figure in the White House's Ukraine scandal? Because that's another relevant part of his c.v.

He'll now parlay that failure into leading the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. What's more, while this is a Senate-confirmed position, Grenell will reportedly begin his tenure today in an acting capacity.

Samantha Power, who was President Barack Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, said in a tweet, "Appointing [Grenell] who has politicized every issue he has touched and has contempt for facts, would be a travesty." Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, added, "This is a national disgrace."