U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is replacing Joseph Maguire as acting director of national intelligence, whose term to temporarily fill the post of former DNI Dan Coats expires March 11.
The acting director is allowed by law to serve in the role for 210 days. Grenell, who was confirmed by the Senate in April 2018, is expected to retain his ambassadorship.
“He has years of experience working with our Intelligence Community in a number of additional positions, including as Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosovo Negotiations and as United States spokesman to the United Nations,” the White House said in a statement. “He is committed to a non-political, non-partisan approach as head of the Intelligence Community, on which our safety and security depend. The President has every confidence that Ambassador Grenell will perform his new duties with distinction.”
Coats left ODNI in August 2019; the previous month, President Trump said he would nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a congressional ally with little intelligence experience, to the role. Days later, Ratcliffe said he asked Trump “to nominate someone other than me for this position.”
Grenell served as spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors at the United Nations from 2001-08. Prior to his UN service, he served as spokesman for New York Gov. George Pataki, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, members of Congress and presidential candidates. After leaving the UN, he was a partner with Los Angeles-based Capitol Media Partners.
“President Trump made a great choice to name @RichardGrenell as America’s next Acting Director of National Intelligence,” tweeted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “Ric has a proven track record of fighting for our country, and now, he will work every day to make sure Americans are safe.”
“At a time when the integrity and independence of the DOJ has been called into grave question, our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the President,” tweeted Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.). “The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges.”
“It appears the President has selected an individual *without any intelligence experience* to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity,” Warner added.
Maguire, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, was a vice admiral in the Navy and led Naval Special Warfare Command.