KEY POINTS

  • Former ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell will be acting intelligence chief
  • Grenell previously faced criticism over negative tweets directed at various women
  • He has also become an outspoken supporter of European conservative movements

President Donald Trump announced this week that he would be naming Richard Grenell as his new acting head of intelligence. A colorful character, Grenell has earned a reputation for, among other things, being a staunch Trump supporter as well as attacking female public figures on social media.

Grenell had been serving as the ambassador to Germany before being appointed as the acting Director of National Intelligence. In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump described Grenell as being a “highly respected” official who has “represented our country exceedingly well.”

Before serving as ambassador, Grenell was part of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as an adviser of foreign policy and national security. The hire raised eyebrows from some conservatives at the time, as Grenell is openly gay.

After landing a spot in Romney’s campaign, Grenell was compelled to clean up his Twitter feed, where he had previously displayed an affinity for tweeting snarky remarks about women, often Democrats.

Though the tweets have since been removed, the Washington Post had reported that Grenell posted that the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “starting to look like [former Secretary of State] Madeline Albright.”

Despite serving on the then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s congressional transition team in 1994, Grenell made a similar tweet criticizing Gingrich’s third wife, Callista. In his tweet, Grenell wrote that at events she often “stands there like she is wife #1” and asked if her “hair snaps on.”

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow should “take a breath and put on a necklace,” Grenell wrote in another tweet. He also tweeted similar comments at other women, including former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Outside of Twitter, Grenell has also cultivated a reputation for sometimes being abrasive with members of the press, rarely one to shy away from telling a reporter when he believed they were in the wrong.

Before joining Romney’s 2012 campaign, Grenell worked as an aide under John Bolton, who at the time had been serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Beyond his Twitter use and interactions with the media, Grenell has been an outspoken supporter of conservative political movements in Europe. This has garnered criticism, as some have felt that doing so inappropriately politicized his position as ambassador.

In a statement to NBC News, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., criticized the appointment as an “effort to sidestep the Senate’s constitutional authority” to name the Director of National Intelligence – as Trump has relied on acting directors since Dan Coats’ resignation last summer.

Richard Grenell caused a stir during his diplomatic service, acting as an enforcer of President Donald Trump's policies on Iran, China and other issues Richard Grenell caused a stir during his diplomatic service, acting as an enforcer of President Donald Trump's policies on Iran, China and other issues Photo: AFP / Odd ANDERSEN