National security adviser Robert O’Brien on Tuesday thanked Richard Grenell for his “distinguished service” in the Trump administration after Grenell stepped down as acting director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and as the U.S. ambassador to Germany.
“I would like to thank Richard Grenell for his distinguished service in the Trump Administration,” O’Brien said in a statement published on the National Security Council’s Twitter account. “For the past two years, he served the American people as Ambassador to Germany and recently as Acting Director of National Intelligence.”
— NSC (@WHNSC) June 2, 2020
The Senate confirmed on May 21 that President Donald Trump ally Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) will take on the role as the permanent director of national intelligence, replacing Grenell. He was narrowly confirmed with a final vote of 49-44, and was sworn in on May 26.
The post of director of national intelligence, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, oversees the 17 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies including the CIA.
Grenell, 53, also confirmed last week that he will not be returning to his post as the U.S. ambassador to Germany—a position he held since May 2018. He will be replaced by Robin Quinville, deputy chief of mission at the embassy, Reuters reported.
“Ric successfully represented America in Berlin and began many important reforms of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during his time in office,” O’Brien continued.
O’Brien in his statement emphasized that he is “grateful” that Grenell will continue to serve as U.S. as envoy for Kosovo and Serbia negotiations “in a part-time capacity…working out of the White House.” Grenell reportedly moved into a compound in the White House on Monday, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
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Today I officially resigned from the State Department. And President Trump presented me with a going away gift – my Cabinet Chair. “Acting” Cabinet Secretaries do not get chairs but President Trump wanted me to have mine because, as he said, “You are the First Openly Gay Cabinet Secretary and it’s a big deal.”
In a gesture of thanks for Grenell’s service in the Trump administration, the president on Monday offered him his Cabinet Room chair as a “going away gift,” the 53-year-old said in an Instagram post.
“‘Acting’ Cabinet Secretaries do not get chairs but President Trump wanted me to have mine because, as he said, ‘You are the First Openly Gay Cabinet Secretary and it’s a big deal,’” Grenell said.
During his three month stint as acting DNI, Grenell earned accolades from some for declassifying information related to an investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who in late 2016 was then-president-elect Trump’s incoming national security adviser. Some senators are pushing for additional declassifications, including any unmasking applications made by Obama administration officials from January 2016 through January 2017.
The Department of Justice recently moved to dismiss the case against Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI but in recent months said he wanted to withdraw the plea.
Justice Department officials said the interview of Flynn by FBI agents in early January 2017 wasn’t part of a legitimate investigation, citing how FBI officials were prepared to close the probe into Flynn, before Peter Strzok, a high-level FBI agent, rushed to keep it open before going to interrogate Flynn with another agent.
Strzok was later fired after hundreds of text messages came to light revealing rampant anti-Trump opinions.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.