President Donald Trump appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence on Wednesday.
In a tweet, Trump described Grenell as a “highly respected” diplomat who “represented our Country exceedingly well.”
Grenell will replace Joseph Maguire, who has been serving in the temporary role since Dan Coats retired as the head of intelligence in August. Federal law prevents Maguire from serving in the role past March 11.
The president thanked Maguire for his service and suggested that he could work in “another capacity” within the White House.
Grenell, a Michigan native and the former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations, will be the first openly gay cabinet member. He’s an outspoken Trump supporter who, like the president, regularly voices strong opinions on political matters via Twitter.
Trump, by appointing Grenell to the temporary position instead of formally nominating him to be the permanent national intelligence director, skirts a Senate confirmation process in which Grenell might not be confirmed. The New York Times reported that some Republican senators were reportedly pushing for someone with more national security experience to be nominated.
Prior to taking on the role of acting DNI, Maguire was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, an organization within the DNI’s office. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Maguire would return to his old job or step down from the government.
Grenell, 53, is scheduled to start as acting DNI on Thursday, Bloomberg News reported.
Trump’s decision to appoint Grenell, who has a reputation of launching sexist attacks against some of his female critics, drew condemnation from Democrats and former intelligence officials.
“Another slap in the face to my former intel colleagues,” tweeted Ned Price, a former CIA officer. “Grenell is a partisan bombthrower whose only skill is defending Trump. Trump’s decision not to nominate a permanent DNI underscores that he has no use for intel and no regard for national security.”
Carla Herreria contributed to this report.
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