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Trump said to eye Grenell for diplomatic post

by Lisa Keen

Richard Grenell
Richard Grenell  

President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to appoint gay Republican politico Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, according to several major news outlets.

Grenell did not respond to a reporter's query to confirm the nomination, but in a post on his Twitter account July 12, he included a photo of himself standing next to Trump seated at the president's desk in the Oval Office. The message posted with the photo says simply, "Thank you, Mr. President."

Grenell was scheduled to appear at a Log Cabin Republicans event in San Francisco Thursday night.

On a "Mornings with Maria" segment posted by Fox Business Network reporter Maria Bartiromo Monday, Bartiromo asked Grenell about the "speculation" that Trump had offered him the ambassador position.

"Have you accepted?" asked Bartiromo.

"Well, I think the only thing I'll say right now is I'm very supportive of this president," Grenell said. "Wherever he wants to put me, I will gladly serve him and the American people." He also reiterated on the segment a belief he has posted on Twitter â€" that American diplomats "need diplomacy with muscle in order to avoid war."

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo declined to comment until after Trump announces the nomination.

Charles Moran, who, like Grenell, was a gay Trump delegate from California to the Republican National Convention last year, said he was "elated" at the news of Grenell's potential nomination.

"This will also mark the highest LGBTQ appointment to date by President Trump, and the most high-profile LGBTQ diplomatic appointment of any president in American history," said Moran. "I am thankful to President Trump for continuing to appoint highly-qualified members of our community to positions within his administration."

The New York Times, CNN, and other outlets, using sources they did not name, said last July 20 that Trump has offered the post to Grenell, who served for seven years in the United Nations under President George W. Bush.

Deutsche Well, one German news organization, expressed relief that Grenell has some foreign policy and media experience and is not simply a Trump donor or business associate. It made only passing notice of Grenell's being gay.

Grenell, 50, is a political commentator for Fox News and founded Capitol Media Partners, a public communications firm that specializes in "crisis communication" and "digital fundraising." He is also a member of Log Cabin Republicans, a national LGBT political group.

Grenell was a foreign policy adviser in 2012 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But he resigned the position after only two weeks, saying his 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." He added that Romney's "clear message to me [was] that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team."

The Washington Post reported that anti-gay conservatives had executed "a full-court press" to get Grenell off Romney's campaign. An official of the American Family Association issued a statement characterizing Grenell as a "gay activist" who would be trying to promote a "homosexual agenda." Others claimed he had advocated for "redefining normal marriage."

Also at that time, media reports drew attention to tweets Grenell posted that included unflattering observations about GOP presidential long-shot Newt Gingrich's wife Callista and MSNBC's political commentator Rachel Maddow, who's lesbian, among others. In an opinion piece for the Washington Blade in 2012, he derided gay Pulitzer Prize-winner Jonathan Capehart for defending President Barack Obama's evolving position on same-sex marriage.

Like Trump, Grenell is a very active Twitter poster. In 2014, Time magazine called him a "Twitter provocateur, seemingly always on the hunt for what he sees as liberal media bias or Democrats' weak-kneed foreign policy."

On July 20, Grenell appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News program, criticizing media scrutiny of Trump's one-hour impromptu dinner chat with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the G-20 Summit as "gossip reporting." Much of that reporting has been in the context of several ongoing investigations to determine whether the Trump campaign solicited or accepted Russian aid in his presidential election victory last November.

And Grenell retweeted, without comment, a Fox New story July 13 that criticized ABC and NBC News for characterizing the Alliance Defending Freedom as an "anti-LGBT hate group." The ADF has been one of the leading organizations in filing challenges to laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

 

Background

Grenell earned a master's degree in public administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was appointed by Ambassador John Danforth in 2004 to serve as an alternative representative of the United States to the U.N. Security Council. He served the Bush administration for seven years as a spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And he served as a spokesman for numerous other prominent Republicans, including former New York Governor George Pataki, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, former Michigan Representative David Camp, and former San Diego Mayor Susan Golding.

Grenell has been a member of Log Cabin Republicans, and spoke about foreign policy issues at its national conference last year. In 2013, he signed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of overturning California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex couples from marrying.

The Associated Press reported last November that Grenell was being considered by Trump for the position of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But Trump ultimately chose South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for that post.

Grenell's Twitter feed also indicates that, one year after leaving the Romney campaign staff, Grenell underwent chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He and his partner, Matthew Lashey, developed a free app to help people being treated for cancer to track the side effects of their medications to help doctors make better informed judgments in adjusting treatment.

In 2008, the Advocate magazine reported that Grenell, while at the U.N., sought to have Lashey listed in the U.N. directory that lists diplomatic personnel and their spouses. Grenell said that he and Lashey considered themselves married even though, at the time, it was not possible for them to obtain a marriage license in New York. A U.S. State Department official said the Defense of Marriage Act precluded the U.S. from submitting Lashey's name for inclusion.

 

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