According to a White House official, President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO. If Grenell wins Senate confirmation, he will be the highest-ranking openly gay official in Trump’s administration.
A former Fox commentator and Trump loyalist since the start of his campaign, Grenell has openly supported Trump’s threats to walk away from NATO. “I think this is about NATO reform, I don’t think this is about getting rid of a NATO alliance,” Grenell said on Fox last year. “I think this is businessman Donald Trump showing that he knows how to reform.”
So who is Richard Grenell?
Richard Grenell received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and his bachelor’s degree in Government and Public Administration from Evangel University.
The 50-year-old gay man served as a spokesperson to four Republican-administration ambassadors at the UN from 2001 through 2008, making him the longest-serving U.S. spokesman at the UN.
Grenell briefly served as national security spokesman for Mitt Romney in his 2012 campaign for President, becoming the first openly gay spokesman for a Republican presidential candidate. However, he soon reassigned from the post after pressure from anti-gay conservatives.
In a statement, Grenell said:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
Grenell is currently under contract with Fox News where he comments on foreign affairs and the media. His byline has appeared on The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, CNN, Politico, Huffington Post, The Washington Times, Newsmax and Al Jazeera.
Part of Grenell’s personality is his massive Twitter following. In 2012, CNN ranked Grenell’s social media outreach as one of the top five, and Time magazine named Grenell as one of the Top 10 Political Twitter Feeds of 2014.
Part of his claim to fame as a Twitter provocateur is sparring with other journalists for their biased coverage. Last year, he went after MSNBC’s Katy Tur for her coverage of the Wikileaks email dumps. He suggested that Tur only got her position due to her relationship with former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.
After Trump held up a pride flag at a rally in Colorado, Grenell penned a piece for The Washington Times explaining why he believes that Trump will support the LGBT community.
No other Republican Presidential nominee in history has embraced the LGBT community in such a loud and proud way. And yet, the moment was barely reported by the media despite the fact it happened in front of the traveling press corps accompanying Mr. Trump. Political reporters, not unsurprising, largely failed to write on the moment where a Republican challenged their negative media stereotype.