Last week in part one, they discussed Russia, NATO, building peace between Serbia and Kosovo, and Grenell’s personal battles with cancer.
Now in part two, they discuss the Durham probe, their work together in the intelligence community and in the Trump White House, and Grenell’s plan to fix California.
Kash Patel: Hey, everybody. As promised, we’re back with part two of our interview with Ric Grenell, former acting Director of National Intelligence. We previously talked about Germany, Serbia, Kosovo, and his personal battle with cancer. And now we’re getting ready to dive into everything from Russiagate, to the intelligence community, to the media. And I think you’re in for an exciting episode.
So here’s a question that I know a lot of people have asked me because they know you and I are such close friends and we’re partners in government. And it’s one of your most prominent roles, but did you ever want to be the Director of National Intelligence?
Richard Grenell: No. I didn’t want to be acting. I didn’t want to be DNI. You know this. I turned it down multiple times.
Mr. Patel: So what happened? How does one get to… I have my own stories about me not wanting certain jobs and ending up in them, but DNI, that’s the cabinet-level position. You’re the head of the U.S. intelligence community, the DNI being the office of the Director of National Intelligence. I mean, it doesn’t get much bigger than that in terms of U.S. intelligence.
Mr. Grenell: I’ve spent 11 years at the State Department. I really know the State Department and I care very deeply about the State Department. I have a lot of friends there. I know what needs to be done at the State Department in terms of reforming. And my energy was always concentrating on the State Department, not on the intelligence side. But one thing I will say is my first intelligence briefing was in 2001.
Mr. Patel: 20 years ago.
Mr. Grenell: I’ve had tens of thousands of briefings, and even more than that when it comes to reading raw intelligence. I am an expert on the consumption of intelligence. I know what policy officials need. And when President Trump appointed me as acting director, when the president calls and he asks you to do something, you have to do it.
And he knew that I didn’t really want to, but I could hear that this was a directive. And so I did it. And I did it on a temporary basis until they found the permanent one. I was happy to do that. It was a great experience.
Mr. Patel: Well, it was a big sacrifice for you. I mean, you were in Berlin as our ambassador, with your family, and you have to move across the ocean.
Mr. Grenell: In 12 hours.
Mr. Patel: In 12 hours. And I heard you had one condition attached to your move that got you a pretty rockstar deputy. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Mr. Grenell: I did. I said to the president, I said, I will do this under one condition, that Kash comes over and helps me. And that’s the truth, because I had worked with you up until that point and knew that you were an expert on our intelligence programs.
Mr. Patel: Let me just have a quick vignette on that. And this is one of my favorite moments in government serving with you. We had a lot at the office of the Director of National Intelligence, but you were ambassador to Germany. I was deputy assistant to president and senior director of counter-terrorism. So that meant I had our hostage portfolio under me and my team was working on hostage rescue programs for America—some of our most sensitive stuff.
One of the hostages was retrieved in no small part to your outstanding efforts while you were over in Germany and you got to meet him and receive him and be the first U.S. representative to see him on the tarmac. Can you walk us through a little bit of that? And then we can… I think that dovetails into, intel us how you get hostages home and a great foreign policy.
Mr. Grenell: You’re talking about Pastor Brunson?
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: And it was an incredible moment. You know this, and anybody who knows me knows I grew up evangelical Christian. I have a mother who is an amazing Christian woman who is filled with prayer for me every single day, and is constantly challenging me to protect Israel. And I think Pastor Brunson is one of those individuals who constantly honors the Christian principle of honoring Israel.
Mr. Patel: And just so everybody knows, Pastor Brunson, an American citizen was serving his faith-based community in Turkey and was basically taken prisoner unlawfully: the Americans felt, President Trump felt, you felt, I felt.
Mr. Grenell: Accused of being a spy.
Mr. Patel: And accused of being a spy in Turkey. Turkey isn’t exactly our greatest ally. And he was held in some pretty horrible conditions in prison for, I think it was one to two years, right?
Mr. Grenell: I don’t remember exactly how long, but too long is the answer. And one of the greatest things about President Trump that I love is, and I think this is biblical, is that President Trump is somebody who is willing to be used by God. He’s very sensitive to religious liberties. I think out of all the presidents that I’ve known, he is somebody who is immediately and innately open and sensitive to people of faith who are caught in a terrible situation or injustices against them.
That’s not to say that President Trump is the greatest Christian person I know, but I think biblically, when you look at some of the great leaders that God has ever used, they’re always imperfect people. And I think to embrace that is embracing the reality of a biblical principle. President Trump, I can tell you unequivocally, is incredibly sensitive to situations—like a Pastor Brunson. And he works very hard on religious liberties issues.
When he heard about Pastor Brunson, he was willing to take on our relationship with Turkey over a religious liberties issue that he knew was only about this one person in the moment. But really in reality, it was about all of our religious liberties. If you can’t take that moment or recognize that moment, that what Pastor Brunson is representing is a moment for every single person’s religious liberties, then I don’t think that you’re doing it justice to be sensitive to what these issues really are about.
And President Trump read that moment perfectly. He said to me, “Do everything you can. Get the Germans, get Europe, whatever we can do to pressure the Turks.” And so I actually went to Chancellor Merkel. No one ever knows this. I’ve never said this publicly.
I went to chancellor Merkel to say, can you help us on Pastor Brunson? Can you pressure the Turks? Now, remember Germany and Turkey have a very strong relationship. And to Chancellor Merkel’s credit, she said, this is a terrible situation. We are going to do everything that we can.
So I do think that the Germans helped. But at the end of the day, it was President Trump who was willing to make this an issue and to constantly say, we’re drawing the line on this. And when Pastor Brunson was released-
Mr. Patel: Yeah, I remember you and I were talking constantly and I called you and we had secured the release of Pastor Brunson. And I’ll hand it back over to you now, because this is a pretty cool moment.
Mr. Grenell: I was in Berlin and had to get down to Ramstein.
Mr. Patel: In Germany?
Mr. Grenell: In Germany. And it’s far away. Germany is a big country.
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: Remember I also have to get down there and I can’t tell my security team or a lot of people what’s happening. And so we scrambled. I got in the car and 15 minutes and we had to drive because there were no flights.
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: And so we drove all night. I got there about two in the morning. Pastor Brunson arrived, I think around 2:30 or 3:00.
Mr. Patel: Because we had flown him from Turkey to Ramstein.
Mr. Grenell: So I’m standing on the tarmac as the plane lands, the doors open, I watch as Pastor Brunson is coming down the stairs. Now, I have to tell you that it was very hard for me not to cry, because I could sense the moment of what President Trump had just done for religious liberties, with a NATO ally, with a country like Turkey, was monumental. I felt the moment. And as Pastor Brunson came down the stairs, I was there with an American flag.
Mr. Patel: I was just going to say, what did you hand up?
Mr. Grenell: And he grabbed the flag, unprompted, totally naturally, and kissed it. And he felt the moment as well. And I remember saying to myself, don’t lose it. Because the last thing I think we need to see is a leader too emotional.
Mr. Patel: Well, we joke about it, but it’s an emotional time. And I bring this story up because it’s one of my favorites working with you, but it’s just one of so many. One of so many that was successful because we had such a hard drive to succeed in the intelligence community under President Trump and the national security apparatus. He brought home over 50 hostages and detainees, more than any president.
Mr. Grenell: Well, you get a lot of credit for that too, because you’re running that behind the scenes and pulling all of the levers to get ambassadors and others. I mean, Ed McMullen, our ambassador in Switzerland, did a great job.
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: And a lot of times ambassadors don’t get that credit, but if they’re willing to go to the mat and move mountains, it helps
Mr. Patel: Well, you and Ed certainly were. Ed did the same for our hostages in Iran that were brought over to Switzerland. He met them on the tarmac and he had an equally emotional and vivid response to handing over an American flag and giving him a hug.
Mr. Grenell: Well, it goes to what your original question was, which was really about the intelligence aspect-
Mr. Patel: Yeah, let’s get back to DNI.
Mr. Grenell: … and why it’s so important. And as a consumer of intelligence for so many years, I was frustrated with the quality of intelligence, to be honest. As you know, and I don’t think that the public understands this enough, but intelligence is an estimate. It’s not an exact science. It’s what we believe or what some people believe about a situation. So it’s an estimate.
That estimate should be provided in confidence to public policy officials to take that information with a variety of other information they have and make public policy decisions. That’s why I think the leaks of raw intelligence, of intelligence that’s not tested…
And when I say raw as you know it means one little thing that is only a piece of a larger thing. And having little pieces of raw intelligence that are untested means that sometimes someone’s gossiping or the information is wrong and it’s untested. So you shouldn’t really leak it if it’s not been tested to know that it’s actually true. And what we find too many times are that intelligence officials are leaking untested, unverified, ultimately untrue-
Mr. Patel: Classified.
Mr. Grenell: … classified information. It’s illegal, but it also makes America less safe. And I found that the Russia team does it too much.
Mr. Patel: We probably should have said this earlier, but as acting Director of National Intelligence, there’s all sorts of kinds of intelligence. There’s human intelligence. There’s this thing we call signals intelligence—telephones. And there’s other kinds of intelligence.
But the director of the CIA reports to you. The director of the NSA reports to you. There are 17 agencies in our intelligence community and you sat on top of them. And so when you say something like it was the worst in our Russian intel space, what do you mean by that? And what’s the impact of that for American security?
Mr. Grenell: So as a consumer of intelligence, remember I’m the guy that’s reading all of the different pieces of intelligence when I’m doing my job in New York, at the UN, or in Germany. I’m using it for all sorts of different issues. And I can see that it’s not always perfect, right? That you’ve got to be careful sometimes.
And so I was a big believer as a consumer of intelligence that our intelligence needed to get better. We needed to stop politicizing it. We needed to make it more factual and less political in nature or partisan in nature.
And so when I came in, one of the groups that I met with was the Israel team. Because remember we had a situation where, as public policy officials, we were told by the U.S. intelligence agencies, if we move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, there would be World War Three.
Mr. Patel: I remember that.
Mr. Grenell: That wasn’t even debated. It was given a fact. And it was designed to say, don’t do it, because you’re going to cause a war. Now, when you look at the details, it was flimsy. And thank God we had certain public officials, President Trump, who was willing to say, I don’t believe that. I think that you’re wrong. And he resisted those warnings because of all of the other information.
Remember intelligence is an estimate. So the estimate was there would be World War Three. Too many people in the media, too many people in Washington, D.C., believed there would be World War Three. They didn’t take it as an estimate. They took it as a science fact.
I am thankful that President Trump resisted that. That in his estimation, that wasn’t true. And so he moved us to the point where the embassy was opened in Jerusalem. By the way, the right thing to do. Long overdue. And there wasn’t World War Three. Not only wasn’t there World War Three, our relations with Arabs improved.
Mr. Patel: That’s right.
Mr. Grenell: It was a benefit. And, Kash, no one in the intelligence space was saying that. No one said it would be a benefit. They said it would be the opposite. So they were all wrong.
That was one of many examples that I went to the Israel team and I said, “You got to do a better job. Your credibility is ruined when you say things like that.” Now the same thing can be said for the Russia and the China team. The Russia team is highly politicized right now. It hasn’t changed. If I had stayed longer, I was going to take on the Russia team and reform it.
Now, you and I both know that the second you do that, the media says you are manipulating intelligence, you’re trying to deny these facts. And none of that could be further from the truth. And it takes someone to resist the narratives in Washington, the BS coming from newsrooms in Washington about things like that. You can’t even… As an acting director of intelligence, I couldn’t even talk about these issues without someone saying I was manipulating them.
The problem is that the Russia team is broken. They were leaking against their government for partisan purposes,
Mr. Patel: Against the law.
Mr. Grenell: And it’s against the law, but they were doing it for partisan political purposes. And the irony is, that the guy who was trying to step in and fix it was being told, you’re the one who’s manipulating the intelligence.
Mr. Patel: And I remember they attacked you in the media. They attacked me in the media because you were trying to reform the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the intelligence community. And one of the things you did along with not just take on the teams, but also take on the sort of geographic landscape—how the DNI, the IC is mapped out.
Because you and I both felt we didn’t need these thousands of people and bill it in American taxpayers going to all these separate organizations. Everybody was providing estimates that were incorrect or false, and their reporting was poorly put together. So one of the things I think you did that I was most proud of was you trimmed down the office of Director of National Intelligence.
Mr. Grenell: Which is the original idea.
Mr. Patel: Yeah. It was supposed to be small.
Mr. Grenell: This just drives me crazy because Washington is so broken. After 9/11, when the 9/11 report came out and said, what happened? Well, how did we miss this? How did the intelligence community miss September 11th, 2001?
One of the conclusions was that the intelligence community had different estimates, different little pieces, but they weren’t talking about it. So what one agency knew about a certain point or person, they didn’t communicate to understand what was happening in these other situations.
And if there was one person who had seen all of the little pieces, that person might have been able, at least have a better shot of saying, “I think they’re going to attack us on 9/11.” What the solution was in the Bush administration, when I was at the UN, when we said we cannot ever let September 11th happen again, how do we make policy changes? All of Washington said, “Oh, well, let’s create a new bureaucracy called-”
Mr. Patel: That was the answer, right? Create something new?
Mr. Grenell: Correct.
Mr. Patel: DHS, ODNI.
Mr. Grenell: At the time, there were very few people saying, “Wait a minute, because these different agencies aren’t talking and they’re siloed, you’re going to create another agency to coordinate them? Doesn’t that kind of not fit?” No one was saying that, or very few were saying that. But I believe that that is the case now, that the National Intelligence—the office, is too big.
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: It’s become a competitive body with the other intelligence agencies. It’s no longer a coordinating body. The original vision would say, let’s have like 50 to 100 people there that can just make sure everybody’s talking.
Mr. Patel: Not 5,000.
Mr. Grenell: Not as many as there are. And I won’t give a number. But what I found and what career officials had done studies to find is that the agencies were doing the same things and they were competing instead of complimenting. And so, again, when I put forward a reform plan, I was attacked for manipulating intelligence by Adam Schiff, the same guy who refused to take my phone calls to hear what I was going to do. So this is part of Washington’s culture. Adam Schiff, and by the way, Senator Warner, Mark Warner, both of them refuse to meet with me.
Mr. Patel: And let’s just highlight who these individuals are. In Congress, Adam Schiff was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Warner was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had direct oversight ownership of, from a congressional standpoint, intelligence communities and your [office].
Mr. Grenell: I tried to coordinate with them. Mark Warner canceled a set meeting and then his office would never take a phone call to try to reset the meeting. So here I am faced with Adam Schiff and Mark Warner refusing to talk to me, but going out in front of the media, saying, Grenell’s not coordinating with us on his reform package. And I thought, “I’m not coordinating with you because you won’t answer the phone.”
Mr. Patel: I remember trying to get those meetings.
Mr. Grenell: And you won’t have a meeting.
Mr. Patel: And that’s the ultimate. I’ve always said this. There was a politicization of the national security apparatus, in this case, the intelligence community, at the expense of the American people, because they wanted to go on TV and not actually meet and do the work which you wanted them…
Mr. Grenell: And shame on these reporters. They lambasted me for not coordinating on the reform package. They never spoke to me.
Mr. Patel: They hated you for being transparent. Remember, you’re the guy under whose tenure so much information was declassified properly that showed the depravity of the Russiagate hoax, and the Michael Flynn case.
The media and the American people had the facts themselves for the first time from the FBI’s own documents because you were brave enough to roar down that road and say, this information isn’t going to hurt national security, and no one’s going to get killed, and the American people have a right to it. I remember that.
Mr. Grenell: But think about this. This is really important. The reason why the Washington, D.C., media did not want me to be transparent with those agencies, with the information in the agencies. They didn’t want us to be transparent because we were going directly to the American people with that information.
They want the information themselves so you have to read the Washington Post or the New York Times or Politico to get the information. They are the filter. And they want to maintain being the one that gives the information. So when-
Mr. Patel: As they see it.
Mr. Grenell: As they see it. So when somebody like me, or President Trump, or any cabinet official tries to be transparent, the media is not going to be your friend because you take away their business model.
Mr. Patel: Well, they never were. I want to quickly ask you the following about one of the most important jobs on planet earth while being the Director of National Intelligence. And that is something most people don’t know about, it’s called the presidential daily briefing. The PDB, your job is to collect all the information from the intelligence community and go to the Oval Office and brief the president on everything from A to Z—wire to wire.
And you would go there week in and week out multiple times a week. And I remember the media knocking them saying President Trump and Ric Grenell don’t do a PDB. He doesn’t engage in the intelligence. I know that’s not the case because I was in the Oval with you. But what I’m going to ask you for is rather than describing the architecture of the PDB. What’s your most memorable moment of delivering the PDB to President Trump in the Oval Office? What was the most impactful moment for you?
Mr. Grenell: So, President Trump is such an outsider to Washington and to the system that he was able to hone in on the priorities that the American people wanted. And he didn’t get trapped into this Washington culture. Look, there’s a whole bunch of people who would prepare all night for the PDB, the president’s daily briefing. And all of that information would come from very smart people in Washington that were earnest and trying to get all of the information forward.
Many times, that information comes from the loudest pushers, right? The people who care, I’m caring about this issue. So you got to hear about Kashmir. Or you need to hear about what’s going on in Africa. And so you would push these issues forward. What I loved…
And we were always prepared with the world and the president would get his priority information about the world. But what I always loved about the president, and I knew even before I started the job, and so I tried to, to make sure that the PDB covered these things, is that the president would focus on priority issues, not Washington, D.C. issues, not what Washington DC types would say that he should focus on.
But the president would all of a sudden give a zinger. It’s like, “Hey, what about this issue?” And it wasn’t always something that we were prepared for. And it would scare the people who were in that meeting who didn’t know the president very well, the briefers, into saying, I got to be more prepared. Because he’s not going to just get fed.
It wasn’t a one-way sponge where the president would sit and listen to what the Washington establishment is going to brief him on the priorities. This was a conversation. And the president would say, “Nah. Actually, I talked to that world leader. That’s not true.”
Mr. Patel: [Laughed]
Mr. Grenell: And I loved that perspective, because I can tell you too, some of the information that you would present was not always timely. And if you were on top of issues, you knew that was a little bit slow. That was information, that was what we say OBE—overtaken by events. And so the president wouldn’t just let us go down this road that would waste his time. He would many times say “Actually, no, you’re slow on that. You’re wrong. Let’s move on.”
And that’s just, I think, a product of being on the outside, being a person from the business community who has to make quick decisions. And I loved that about President Trump’s intelligence briefings.
Mr. Patel: I’ll end the DNI conversation with my own 30-second story. You and I walked into the Oval one day to deliver the PDB, and as you say, engage with the president. It wasn’t us reading it to him. It was a full-on conversation. We walked in and we sat down on opposite sides of the Resolute Desk and the president behind it and he goes to the group that was in there with us. He goes, “You’re my intel guys.” And he had this big smile on his face. And I think he looked forward to it when you did it, and when Johnny Ratcliffe did it after you.
We have not too much time left and I wanted to designate the remaining time for two things, one short, one, your passion project, which I want to get to. But real quick, you were featured in the “Plot Against the President,” this amazing documentary that summarized the Russiagate hoax and the investigation by the House Intel Committee.
And now we’re seeing, a year, two years later, John Durham reporting in the indictments. Can you speak to the “Plot Against the President” itself, your role in it, and where you think this is going?
Mr. Grenell: It’s a big question. Let’s start with, where do we think it’s going? I just don’t know. I mean, I’m losing hope.
Mr. Patel: I’m still hopeful. I think we’re on the right track.
Mr. Grenell: I just think justice is supposed to be swift. And when it’s not swift, it’s not justice.
Mr. Patel: Sure.
Mr. Grenell: And I’m frustrated that it’s all of these years later, we’ve moved on so many other topics. I was disappointed, and I think I’ve shared this with you personally, that so far, the only person that we’re talking about is this outside counsel. You’re never going to be able to convince me that the phony Russia collusion investigation and narrative was done by some democratic lawyer on the outside. This was done by DOJ and FBI officials.
Mr. Patel: You know that because you saw the documentation that some of it is not even… You tried to declassify a lot of it.
And I’ll give you a perfect example, when I ran Russiagate on House intel under then chairman Nunes, I took 60 depositions, 60 interrogations of sworn witnesses in 2017. And it took until you became the Director of National Intelligence to declassify those depositions, because Adam Schiff stood in the way. And that’s just an example of, I think, why you are so frustrated with the process of holding people accountable. But this maybe-
Mr. Grenell: Well, you see that the problems are with the political leadership of some of the agencies. And they’re good at hiding the ball. And I think it’s outrageous that we’re not able to say this person lied, or this person pushed a lie and knew that it was a lie from the very beginning. I have to say, Kash, it’s outrageous that George Stephanopoulos would do an interview with Christopher Steele and allow Christopher Steele to say, in the Biden administration, “Well, it’s not quite over. We still might find something.”
Are you kidding me? George Stephanopoulos was ill-prepared. He was a denier of facts to be able to sit there and allow this guy to continue further. Furthering a lie is so outrageous and so indicative of him, George Stephanopoulos, not being a journalist, he’s an activist. And it was, I think, a low point in his career to allow Steele to sit there and resurrect a lie and not push back. ABC News should be ashamed of themselves.
Mr. Patel: I couldn’t agree with you more. And we covered that last week on the show. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think we are finally breaking through that six percent, eight percent of the American public when they see interviews like that and they read the documentation that’s been produced for America to see that Russiagate was a total scam, conjured up by the Democrats and a willing media and paid for by them.
Mr. Grenell: And let’s just be clear on one thing they said that Donald Trump was working for Russia, that he was a Russian agent pretending to run for President in the United States. That’s what they said. Christopher Steele just resurrected that again in front of George Stefano. Now, why did they do that?
Because they are afraid that Donald Trump is going to run, win the nomination, and compete for the presidency again. They’re afraid that he might come back. So what are they doing? ABC News is allowing Christopher Steele to resurface a phony lie that Donald Trump actually works for the Russians.
I will just say this to you. Why is it that Joe Biden gave Putin the pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2 when Donald Trump held it up? That pipeline resurrects Russia. Their economy is in shambles. And what giving them this pipeline, this secure moneymaker into Europe does is it resurrects them for another couple of years.
And that is done by Joe Biden, not by Donald Trump. And to somehow have ABC News allow this narrative that Donald Trump is working for Russia to… By the way, the whole Russia, Russia, Russia narrative is exactly what Beijing wants you to do.
Mr. Patel: Yeah.
Mr. Grenell: Look over there at Russia. Don’t pay attention to China. Russia is a problem. China is a crisis.
Mr. Patel: It’s the biggest okey-dokey in world geopolitical diplomacy and China’s getting a free ride. I couldn’t agree with you more. And I think the fact that it was resurrected, I agree with everything you just said, but I do think the fact that there was resurrected is they overplayed their hand, and it’s going to come back to bite him because it’s going to show how much of a corrupt and fraud DOJ and FBI we had.
Mr. Patel: But I do want to talk about one thing that I know is your pride—your passion project. You’re a California guy. You live here. Your family’s here. And you are doing so many great things for the State of California and your California initiative that I want to talk about them. I know you’re doing everything from water, to election security, to securing California’s economic powerhouse. What is it? What are you doing? And why are you doing all of this in California? And can I bring it east?
Mr. Grenell: Yeah, well, I don’t know about bringing it east, but California just suffered one of the biggest losses ever. We’re losing power in Congress. And while some people might say, oh yeah, you’re only losing a congressional seat, California has always been the best state, the biggest state, the state that everything is tried first in. We’re California. We’re the best.
And yet over the last five, six, seven years, we’ve not been the best. We have a political leadership in Sacramento that is controlled by one political party, and it’s driven us off the cliff. And that’s why we’re losing power. People are leaving California. I thought about leaving.
Mr. Patel: Really?
Mr. Grenell: It gets to the point where it’s so expensive and the policy… I mean, we’re running commercials now. I just saw one last night. The State of California is now running commercials telling people, from 4:00 to 9:00 PM, turn off your power, turn down, unplug-
Mr. Patel: Because there’s not enough energy.
Mr. Grenell: We don’t have enough energy. We’re telling people not to water their lawns and take quicker showers. And they put these little things in the showers that take away water consumption. Look, all of that can be good, but not as a public policy. We live on the ocean, we should not have a water problem. We’re California, we should not have an energy problem.
By the way, as the country, the United States completely revamps our energy policies and exports to include liquid natural gas, the explosion of U.S. LNG. Do you know that not a single LNG terminal is on the west coast of the United States? Not in Washington, Oregon, or California, not a single terminal. Because all three very progressive liberal Democrat governors won’t allow it to happen. They’re not allowing the west coast to participate in this.
But you know who is building one? Mexico. Because they say, well, if the west coast isn’t going to be able to supply LNG to China, we will. And so now Asia is going to get LNG via Mexico. Because Gavin Newsome in the largest state in the country is not putting a terminal to be able to participate in LNG production and export.
Mr. Patel: So staying in energy, how do you counter that? How does your California FIRST initiative [crosstalk 00:34:18]?
Mr. Grenell: So all of these issues came to me and we thought about leaving and we decided, “You know what? California’s too great. We’re going to stay.” And so I decided to put together a plan. It’s not very sexy. It’s a long-term plan. Whenever you have long-term strategic plans, people get bored.
Mr. Patel: They don’t pay attention.
Mr. Grenell: They don’t pay attention. But I’m passionate. And I’m traveling the state talking about Fix California. And I would love for people to go to fixcalifornia.com. We’re doing three things. There’s probably 20 things that we could do, but we’ve narrowed it down to three things.
We are taking the fight for voter integrity to every single county in California. We’re asking them to comply with the law, clean up the voter rolls, and make sure that every single person on the voter rolls is legally on the voter roll. So we’re cleaning up the voter rolls in every county.
Two, we’re doing a data play and going through and finding disenfranchised conservative voters. How many people live in California, who are conservatives, who are just not involved because they think, “Why? It’s not worth it. The state is often progressive far left territory.” We’ve already found 1.3 million Californians who are conservative, unregistered to vote.
Mr. Patel: 1.3 million?
Mr. Grenell: 1.3 million unregistered. So we’re going to change that. We’re going to get greater participation from conservatives in California politics. We’re going to do to California what Stacey Abrams did to Georgia.
Mr. Patel: Wow.
Mr. Grenell: The third thing that we’re going to do is very important. Next year, in 2022, we will have on the ballot a voter initiative which will ask California voters, do you want to append the way we fund education in this state and have the money that the state spends per pupil, per year, follow the student and the family’s decision as to where to go to school.
Mr. Patel: So they can choose?
Mr. Grenell: They would totally choose. It would create 100 percent competition amongst our schools in California. This will be on the ballot in 2022, asking voters, do you want the money the state spends on education to follow the students? This means if you like your public school, you’ll be able to stay in your public school. If that school is doing a good job, if it’s competitive, if it’s reaching the people that it needs to reach, then you will continue to be able to continue to go to that public school.
But for those parents who find that their kid is in a crappy school and trapped in that crappy school because they can’t afford to go to a private school, they are told you have to go to the school down the street. They don’t have options. And that’s not fair. So what I believe is that the great American principle of competition is exactly what we have to do to our schools. Let our schools compete.
Now, after a year and a half of Zoom school, I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve heard from that are saying, “I didn’t know what was going on inside my kid’s classroom. And after eavesdropping on the situation, I don’t want that curriculum going into the minds of my child and my children.” And so what we’re going to be able to do is to say to the parents, pick your school, let’s have competition, and you choose what’s best for you.
And by the way, that will be amazing for families. Some families are going to choose a religious school. Some families are going to choose a technical school. Some families are going to say, “My kid is really concentrating on drama. We’ll go to a school that’s going to teach you the fundamentals of learning, but also give you heads up and a way forward on being an actor, being in drama, concentrating on the business of drama.”
It’s going to allow us to feed our kids what they really need. And parents will be able to choose. And by the way, parents will be fundamentally involved in this decision. I think we need more parents involved in schools, not fewer parents.
Mr. Patel: So I’m going to… You forgot one thing about all the amazing things you’re doing in California. And I know we probably shocked our audience with a lot of our conversation, but this one actually shocks and surprises me in a good way. Your Fix California initiative, it’s not a Republican thing. It’s not a Democratic thing. You’re actually doing it by bicamerally with both parties. That might be the only place in America. I’ve heard of such a great measure being done that’s apolitical.
Mr. Grenell: Well, the Fix California initiative, I would just say to people, again, go to fixcalifornia.com and you’ll see this third thing that we’re talking about—the education initiative. People want competition. This isn’t a Republican thing. Matter of fact, I would argue that more Democrats are really frustrated with their school than anything and with their schools. And so we have a ton of support from Democrats, Independents and Republicans. This is not a partisan issue. Our schools are not a partisan issue. We want our kids to get the best education.
I have traveled the world and I can tell you that we are not competing like we should be. We are graduating kids from 12th grade who are not able to compete in the places of the future, where they should be competing. In today’s world you should not be graduating from high school and not know how to code.
That’s just fundamental. It’s a foreign language. It should be used as a foreign language. We require kids to take a foreign language, a foreign language should be coding. And they should be able to learn that. That is how you keep up with the times. Everything we do is digital in today’s world. Our kids should be able to graduate and compete in a digital world.
Mr. Patel: Well, these movements, Ric, sounds to me like a first for a nation that needs them across the nation. I’m glad you’re doing them in California. I’m so glad that you’re my dear friend and the first guest on Kash’s Corner. Thanks so much for spending time with us in your home in Southern California.
Mr. Grenell: It’s an honor to be here. Thanks, Kash.
Mr. Patel: I appreciate it. Thanks. And lastly, for our weekly shout out to Kash’s Corner, of course, this week, shout out goes to Matt and Lola. We miss you guys, and we wish you guys were here. And I can’t wait to see you guys again soon. Thank you.
We reached out to the offices of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) about Grenell’s claims that Rep. Schiff and Sen. Warner refused to speak to Grenell about his reform package for the U.S. intelligence community. We did not immediately receive a response.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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