Richard Grenell was reportedly selected to serve as the new acting director of national intelligence (DNI) because of his devotion to President Donald Trump, but a new report revealed that he wasn’t always so loyal.
As Politico reported, Grenell has gained a reputation as a Trump loyalist who regularly takes to Twitter to praise the president and boost his policy stances prior to being appointed to the vacant national intelligence position. But the report noted that during the 2016 presidential election, Grenell’s Twitter messages were much more critical of Trump as he supported then-Ohio Governor John Kasich during the Republican primary.
On March 24, 2016, after Trump tweeted that NATO was “obsolete” and needed to be changed to focus more on anti-terrorism efforts, Grenell tweeted an apparent warning.
“He’s dangerous!” he wrote in the now-deleted tweet.
The report noted that Grenell is not alone in changing his stance on Trump, as other Republicans once critical of Trump during the 2016 primary have since become some of his most loyal backers and even taken top posts in his administration. That included now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who wrote that Trump could become an “authoritarian president.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who was once one of Trump’s harshest critics on the right and warned that the Republican Party could face a dark future if he were to win the nomination, is now one of the president’s most fervent defenders.
Politico noted that Grenell’s change on Trump appeared to take place earlier than others, with his first public support coming after Trump officially became the Republican nominee for president.
Grenell’s now-vocal support of Trump is reportedly a major reason why he was picked to serve as acting DNI. A former senior White House official told CNN that Trump pegged the current ambassador to Germany to serve in the role because he is “looking for a ‘political’ who will have his back,” the former official said. The choice came under criticism because Grenell does not have experience in the intelligence world.
Bob Litt, the former general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that the selection was “extremely dangerous.”
“This is a President who has loathed and feared the (intelligence community) since before he was inaugurated and he views them as a deep state hostile to him seeking to undercut him and he’ll seek to undercut them,” he said, via CNN. “Clearly the important thing here is the President feels Grenell will do his bidding.”