In this episode, we sit down with Richard Grenell, the former Acting Director of National Intelligence and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2018 to 2020. He has been on the ground in Nevada supporting the Trump campaign in its investigations of election fraud and irregularities.
Beyond the election, we look at how President Trump radically shook up Washington’s foreign policy norms and poses what Grenell describes as “an existential threat” to the Washington establishment.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Ric Grenell, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Richard Grenell: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Mr. Jekielek: Ric, you’ve been on the ground in Nevada, working to support the campaign from what I understand. You’ve said that you’ve seen your inquiries to the government being slow-walked and so forth. Recently, we know that there’s a forensic examination of the Dominion machines in Michigan. It’s supposed to be going through. What is the status of the situation in Nevada around those machines and in general?
Mr. Grenell: We have been on the ground in Nevada for a while and looking into all sorts of claims of voter fraud. We’ve developed a very long list of concerning episodes. That includes 42,000 Nevadans who voted twice, a plethora of people who voted outside of the residency requirements. We’ve been finding all sorts of problems and listing those problems to the courts.
One of the problems that we’re developing in this ongoing saga is the claims from the media, from the Democrats and from local governments that we don’t have the proof. The reality is that the ballots and the envelopes are in the possession of local governments like the Clark County officials. We can raise the red flags, we can raise the concerning information, and we can point to the publicly available information that suggests voter fraud, but we can’t have access to the ballots or to the envelopes that have the signatures on it. That’s the property of local government.
It’s not fair for Clark County officials to say, “Where’s your proof?” when they have the proof, and they’re unwilling to let us have access to it. We recently had a local judge say that our team could go examine the Agilis machine and the information that we were seeking. So we went to Clark County officials expecting to examine the machine and examine votes and signatures. And what we got was a tour of the place. It was not what the judge ordered.
So once again, we’re in this ongoing saga, where…I’ll say that their story keeps changing. First, they said that there was no fraud, then they said there was no widespread fraud. Now they’re saying that you can’t prove widespread fraud. So they keep changing this information. Really, I think their strategy is to delay as long as they can and run out the clock. And this is a very frustrating process.
I will finish by saying one of the hallmarks of a democracy is the ability to challenge in court decisions that you disagree with, whether you’re an individual or whether you’re an entity like the Trump campaign. This is a hallmark of democracy. I don’t think anyone should be rushing this process. Everyone should be having patience and looking at the information and the charges that we’re making.
Mr. Jekielek: A number of people have actually voiced these concerns that there’s actually not enough time to be able to address these things. There’s critical dates that are being brandished around December 8, December 14, of course, January 20. What is the significance of these dates? And is there enough time in your view?
Mr. Grenell: Well, there certainly would be enough time if the governments were cooperative. And as the example I just gave: when a judge said that we get to examine the machines in Clark County, and then Clark County doesn’t allow us to examine the machines, that just delays. It means we have to go back to the judge. We have to ask for clarification. He needs to get involved more.
This is part of the Democrats’ strategy to just delay and run up the clock. It’s very frustrating. And it certainly doesn’t help the credibility question we see across this country. People are outraged about this election and they want answers, and when they don’t get answers, I think it feeds the credibility problem.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s talk a little bit about the Georgia runoffs here. President Trump was basically campaigning for the two senators, the Republican senators that are running there. At the same time, you do have this feeling of despondency from some people wondering why does it even make sense to participate, when things aren’t working, in the way that you just described? What are your thoughts?
Mr. Grenell: Well, first of all, let’s be very clear, we have to win as Republicans the Georgia Senate seats. It’s very important to have one part of the government, so that the Biden team or the Democrats cannot see a clear running field to put forward any piece of legislation they want and get it passed. That would be a disaster for the United States.
I think most Americans like divided governments. I think they like to have a check and balance on the system. This is what we need right now—we need the Senate to be solidly Republican. That means that we need both of these senators in Georgia, the Republican senators to win.
It has to be exactly the way the President says, which is get out and support these two. It’s an election that’s coming up very quickly, and it’s of incredible importance that we elect both of these Republican senators at the same time. I think we can also complain about mail-in ballots and the current process that we have in some states—the complaints that many Republicans are having that it feels like voter fraud is being dismissed.
Now, one thing that I do want to point out to be very clear. States like Ohio and Florida, which President Trump won solidly, they also have mail-in ballots. But there’s a difference between what Florida and Ohio does and what Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan does. And the difference is when you want a ballot in Ohio or Florida, you have to request it.
So it’s like an absentee system where you petition the government—you apply. You go online and you say, “I would like to do a mail-in ballot, here’s my name and here’s my current address.” And there’s a check on that before [they] send you the ballot to make sure that that person is legal, and registered, and is following all of the voting rules. And then they get a ballot.
Now the opposite has been happening in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nevada, where governments, like Clark County, in Nevada, or Detroit, or Philadelphia, were sending out ballots to people on lists that they hadn’t checked. And those people had no idea that the ballots were coming. So that’s where we got into a problem where the ballot somehow was put in the mail and somebody filled it out. Then the actual person showed up on election day to vote.
There’s a discrepancy, and the people at the election side say, “Wait a minute, you already voted by mail.” The individuals will say, “No, I didn’t.” That only can happen when a government sends out a ballot, and someone doesn’t know it’s coming. So we can’t have this current mailing system, where governments are randomly sending out ballots to people who don’t know they’re coming. It creates chaos. States like Ohio and Florida don’t do that, and that’s why there wasn’t chaos there.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you make of numerous media calling all of these “unsupported allegations?”
Mr. Grenell: Well, first of all, I think we’ve learned over the last decades that the media bias is real, that every single reporter brings their own bias into their industry, and I don’t think in Washington, DC we have journalists anymore. I think we have advocates on both sides, whether they’re conservative or liberal, and that’s really bad for the system.
It’s ruining the system in many ways, because we’ve got reporters who are really advocates. And so I’m not surprised that many of these reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, AP, USA Today—I could go on and on—I’m not surprised that many of these reporters are rushing to anoint Joe Biden without really looking at the charges of fraud.
You’ll notice—and I’ve said it earlier—but I think it’s worth repeating. You’ll notice that the media went from there is no fraud, to there is no widespread fraud. Now they’re changing again, as you know, to there’s no widespread fraud that would overturn an election. So they are recognizing just through their excuses, that they were wrong in the beginning, and they are dismissive all the way through.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you think, is there still some time to make a change? Presumably, this is why you’re out in Nevada.
Mr. Grenell: Yes, of course, I think there is time to make change and we’ll continue doing that.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk a little bit about the fact that you were the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for five months, acting DNI, appointed by President Trump. Recently, we learned that John Durham was actually appointed as a special counsel some time ago. A lot of us weren’t aware that this had happened, but he’s been acting that way. What is the significance of that appointment and how do you feel that the whole investigation is going from your view right now?
Mr. Grenell: Well, I don’t have any inside view of how the investigation is going. I know that Mr. Durham is a very serious man. Those who know him know that he is a credible man. So we’re waiting for his report. I think the tools that Attorney General Barr has recently given Mr. Durham, I think these are good tools—tools that he needed to be protected.
That’s the system in Washington—to try to give the special counsel as many tools as they can and protections so that they are able to do their job and not be really influenced by the political process. We’ve got to take politics out of the system in Washington, DC, and I know that’s a big heavy lift. I’m not sure it will ever happen, but we certainly need to keep pushing.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is a big question on the minds of the people, certainly the people that were Trump voters. There appears to be a politicization of the U.S. government. This is what people are saying or alleging. These concerns come from all the way back to 2016 and with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation which you’ve talked a lot about. You were in “The Plot Against the President” film speaking about that, and many things that have happened subsequently. How are you seeing that situation now?
Mr. Grenell: The reality is that we’ve got a political system in Washington that is really afraid of transparency. When I was there as the acting DNI, I tried to push transparency as much as possible. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. It’s not political to be transparent. It’s the right thing to do. But it’s very rare in Washington.
And that’s how Washington bureaucrats and agencies get their power—they try to keep the information and spoon feed it to the American people. I actually think that the American people deserve to have more information. They’re smart enough to look at the information and come to their own conclusions. It’s one of the reasons why the Russian collusion investigation went on for so long, even though insiders—many people on the inside knew it was a hoax, knew it was Russian propaganda from the beginning.
But you ask yourself, why did it continue to go on? It continued because political people are able to manipulate the process by not giving out all of the information to the public. They pretend like there’s something there. They go on television, and they say one thing, and then when they’re under oath, they say quite another. This is how Washington works, as they hold the information close and they spoon feed you. It’s time that the American people start demanding more information and transparency.
We can’t expect Washington, DC politicians to just give it to us. I don’t think that we can expect Washington reporters to be demanding anymore. We the American people have to hold our leaders accountable for those leaders that are not being transparent, that are not pushing the agencies in the bureaucracies to be more transparent.
I think we’ve got to get rid of those people. We’ve got to have representatives that listen to the people, that don’t go to Washington and develop their own system and then play by the Washington rules, because that’s how the power in Washington is kept. They like to keep us the people in the dark. We the people have to stop allowing them to do it and demand transparency.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve been a very, very vocal supporter of the President, and people have described you as a Trump ally. I want to get into a bit of why you chose this path, or if in fact, it’s correct what I’m saying. Your thoughts?
Mr. Grenell: The reality is I spent eight years at the UN, and I watched during the Bush administration some really deep foreign policy failures. And during the Obama years, I watched those failures become more pronounced. The Obama team continued wars and the drone attacks. I think the whole system in Washington is very pro-war. It’s pro-Department of Defense and defense contractors.
I think that we saw many foreign policy failures ignored by the crowd in Washington DC, the think tank crowd, the foreign policy crowd—because that’s their whole system and careers, right? They write papers at think tanks about the defense industry. There was a hue and cry when we tried to pull back troops from Germany, for instance. There’s a whole system that really protects this U.S. government push on having our men and women overseas and being constantly looking for crises and wars to go into.
I saw that really unfold at the UN, and I saw it unfold in ways that I felt very uncomfortable with. But in 2016 when we had the presidential primary, I saw Donald Trump really begin to articulate many things that I had been feeling about the Republican Party, and I watched as many of the experts in Washington DC mocked Donald Trump and his America First foreign policy.
Remember, back then, candidate Trump really started to critique the Bush foreign policy, the McCain foreign policy, the Romney foreign policy, and many people said that as a Republican, he would never become the Republican nominee—that he was running in the wrong party. He was critiquing giants within the Republican Party. And there’s no way that the Republican voter would reward somebody like Donald Trump who was critiquing the Republican foreign policy establishment with a nomination as the Republican nominee.
And yet, he continued his very harsh attacks on the foreign policy failures by Republicans. And I saw a real transformation. I saw the grassroots and the Republican activists embrace Donald Trump. He took off, and he became the leader, and he never looked back, and he won the nomination.
You have to ask yourself, why is it that Donald Trump, who had critiqued the Bush, McCain, and Romney foreign policies, was able to win the Republican nomination? I think that alone says monumental things about the current state of the Republican Party in the foreign policy establishment. The grassroots Republicans have rejected all those people in Washington that pretend to be the experts on foreign policy issues.
So then, once President Trump began to articulate many of these things, I jumped on board, and really loved his view on foreign policy, his view on America First, and on challenging our allies to do more.
Again, I spent eight years at the UN watching many of our allies come to diplomatic meetings, and ask the United States to do a whole bunch of different things. I’ve never been in a diplomatic meeting where the other side doesn’t come and ask the United States to spend money, or to do more or to help them. And what Donald Trump was saying is, “Why can’t we do that? Why can’t we put forward what we want and ask others to follow us? Why is it always that we have to be the ones that are being asked to do everything?” And I liked that different perspective.
So I began to really help him in the 2016 race. Obviously, candidate Trump, then-Republican nominee Trump, became President Trump in 2016. That’s when my conversations with the President and others really moved me into becoming a U.S. ambassador to Germany, and really began to push forward many of those ideas that we had in the campaign and the America First ideology.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me about this. First of all, we almost forget the news cycle has been so quick over these last four years. What came of the work you did in Germany? Again, from your perspective?
Mr. Grenell: Well, first of all, I think one of the things that we wanted to do was to really shake up NATO. NATO was a very successful organization. But it needed to update and it needed to figure out what were the crises that it needed to confront. So the idea that we would give NATO new tools and reform it. It was really something that I was passionate about.
And obviously, being the U.S. ambassador to Germany meant that you were the U.S. ambassador to Europe’s largest economy. It was an important milestone to have someone in Germany that believed in America First—that believed that Donald Trump’s vision to reform NATO was going to be an important point to constantly push forward—since Germany is the largest economy.
Certainly, there are other members of NATO that are not paying their fair share, that are not paying the 2014 Wales Pledge; to spend 2 percent of their GDP on their own defense. But yet Germany, as the largest economy, was the one that was showing how to ignore the 2014 Wales Pledge, which also encouraged many other NATO members to not spend the 2 percent, because they saw the largest economy Germany not doing it. So why should they?
In my conversations with President Trump, we wanted to really push the German government to recognize their responsibility as a NATO member and as the largest economy to step up and start paying their fair share to NATO. Germany benefits a lot from NATO. And it certainly benefits a lot from the U.S. troop presence. There’s 34,500 US troops in Germany, and yet the Germans weren’t paying their fair share of what in 2014 NATO members said that every member should pay.
Ignoring that demand was a real problem for American voters and certainly for the Trump administration. We wanted the Germans to care about NATO as much as we did. We wanted the Germans to care about our bilateral relationship and the transatlantic relationship in ways that they could demonstrate how much they care— by abiding by the rules that they helped establish—which was the 2014 Wales Pledge.
At the same time, the frustration grew with American voters and the American people and the Trump administration. Because the Germans, while not paying their fair share at NATO, were buying gas from Russia and in quantities that were troubling. Even the European Parliament said it’s too much—you’re relying too much on Russia. There’s this Nord Stream 2 pipeline that they’re trying to open. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline went too far.
Remember, there is a Nord Stream 1, and we are okay with the Germans getting some of their gas from Russia. But the diversification of their energy sources is really key. Germany, as the largest economy cannot be getting too much of its energy from one country, especially that country being Russia, because you put yourself in the position of being blackmailed, or having leverage used against you.
So we joined the European parliament members who were also saying that they were concerned about Germany’s energy policy and their move towards Nord Stream 2. I think those two issues combined were really things that President Trump wanted to push our German ally friends on. They shouldn’t ignore these two, and yet they were.
And lastly, I’ll just say it was very frustrating, because the Germans have a budget surplus, and the Americans don’t. The American people have a 23, 24, maybe even $25-trillion-dollar budget deficit. We just get so accustomed to our national debt going up, that we lose track of the exact number. That doesn’t happen in Germany; they know exactly where they are, and it’s always a surplus.
Mr. Jekielek: You have a very interesting vantage point having spent eight years working at the UN on behalf of the US. One of the criticisms that has been made against the America First foreign policy is the withdrawal from multilateral institutions, creating a vacuum where a bad actor, like China, or the Chinese Communist Party can step in and take more control. What are your thoughts?
Mr. Grenell: Well, certainly, I think being a part of multilateral institutions is a good thing. We have to remember that it’s not the be-all, end-all, to have every foreign policy issue go through the UN Security Council, for instance. Or to say that every issue has to be checked by our European allies first, because what that does is it gives others a veto over U.S. policy.
I’ve written a long piece on this America First foreign policy and really confronted this idea of consensus, or multilateral institutions. I think that America First certainly doesn’t mean America alone. But it does mean that we have to look for and find allies and multilateral regional groupings that support our policy. I don’t think that every time we have a U.S. policy, it should be approved by the UN. But when we do have a good U.S. policy that the UN can support, then we can utilize the UN and work with them.
I think regional cooperation is really going to be the future, instead of saying that everything has to be checked through the EU. Why couldn’t we start partnering with some European members who agree with our policy, and work with them to push the policy forward? I don’t think that we have to always say that the U.S. policy has to get vetoed or checked by others before we push forward our policy.
I would rather put forward what’s best for America, what’s best for America’s national security, make America first and find allies and regional supporters that believe in us, that also benefit from that America First foreign policy. I’ll give you an example. Certainly, in the Middle East, we’ve seen with the Abraham Accords, a real change—when what’s good for America also happens to be good for many regional players in the Middle East. They’ve recognized that, and they’re making peace with Israel.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s interesting. You mentioned the Abraham Accords. This is one of these policies that has been described, at least from what I’ve seen, as something that could survive a possible Biden administration. Here’s the question, as with many things that have to do with President Trump, there are these very polar perspectives. There are people that have described the America First policy as very successful on the foreign policy side. And there are people who are saying it’s a complete disaster, that there have been no accomplishments, just everything downhill. What do you see as the big successes of the foreign policy?
Mr. Grenell: I think there are quite a few. Certainly, we have Kosovo, Serbia, which for 20 years has been a political issue that hasn’t gone anywhere. And we’ve struck four different deals, including a huge economic normalization package. I think the Abraham Accords are another.
And just look at the NATO issue. For instance, there were a lot of foreign policy experts in Washington, DC, and Transatlantic Alliance specialists and experts that immediately criticized President Trump for pushing on NATO budget issues and demanding that our allies start paying what they committed to pay. There were all sorts of smarty pants in Washington DC saying this is never going work, you’re going to break NATO.
And yet, if you would step back and look at the facts, you would see that NATO members for the first time stepped up and felt our pain, a lot more than they originally did. It was messy because we were demanding that they pay. We were turning the argument around to say you are undercutting NATO if you’re not paying, and that kind of upset the applecart.
That was something that the Washington establishment hated, and messaged for a good 18 months that we the Trump administration were ruining NATO. I think that there’s an argument to say now NATO is stronger, it’s gotten more money than it ever has. And that is to the credit of Donald Trump and pushing our allies to do more. Now, if we would have gone with the Washington way we would have continued asking the NATO allies to pay more in a very quiet and what I would describe as an ineffective way.
That’s the way of the Obama administration, of the Bush administration, of the Clinton administration—there’s been a long list of President presidential administrations who have asked NATO allies to pay more only to find that the NATO members themselves have ignored the United States, because it just didn’t seem like it was a priority.
But then when the Trump administration came in and made it a priority, and talked about it in very stark terms, and pushed our NATO allies, what did we see the Washington crowd immediately say? “You’re too mean, I can’t believe that you’re being this mean to our allies, the whole Transatlantic Alliance is over.” And yet, NATO is now stronger because of Donald Trump’s tactics.
Mr. Jekielek: Talking about foreign policy, one of the pretty stark shifts in terms of approach has been the U.S. approach to the Chinese Communist Party and China in general. You’ve watched this transformation. I would love to hear about it from your vantage point and the administrations.
Mr. Grenell: Look, I think that we’ve watched as China has played the United States and the Western world for a very long time. And we’ve never really had a president that was willing to call them out on it. If you go back 20-plus years to when we asked the Chinese to join the WTO, or we allowed the Chinese to join the WTO, we did that because we thought engagement would work if we engaged more with the Chinese Communist Party—that somehow they would move towards greater human rights or greater sensitivity to the rule of law, and maybe move towards capitalism.
We had a whole bunch of idealistic ideas of why we were engaging with them. This is not to criticize engagement all of the time, because I think engagement can work. The United States and the Trump administration engaging with North Korea, for instance, is worth a try. And yet, in the example of China in the WTO, engagement hasn’t worked.
It’s taken us way too long to be honest about the fact that engagement with China has made things worse. We see how they’re aggressive on 5G technology and how they have backdoor processes to grab information and are really abusing the relationship that they’re forming around the world to provide 5G. We see this with facial recognition, the Face++ and other Chinese apps, applications, and technology companies that really take a technology and allow abuse to it.
We see it with TikTok, right? This app that is supposed to be for entertainment gets into the hands of American kids and teenagers. And then suddenly, we find that the information that’s being collected is going straight to the Communist Party of China. These are the problems with China that have been ignored for too long.
You can’t talk about all of these Communist Party secret strategies without talking about COVID-19. I was the acting director of national intelligence when all of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies came together and agreed on a statement on COVID-19. And that statement, which I don’t think has gotten enough media attention was very clear.
It said that China was responsible for COVID-19, and that it started in either animal-to-human transmission or the Wuhan labs. So we narrowed it down to two places. That was the entire U.S. intelligence agency, saying that China was responsible for COVID-19. Since then, there’s been a lot of Democrats and a lot of others who have ignored that U.S. intelligence warning and statement, and we find ourselves constantly ignoring the moves that China makes.
I do think that COVID-19 has pushed Western allies, certainly the transatlantic relationship and Americans, both Democrat and Republican, to come together to say, we can never have the secret Chinese ways result in this type of destruction on the world’s economy ever again.
There is a belief, both in Europe and in America, that the supply chain that has been allowed to grow inside China has got to stop. We need to not ever be in the position where we’re relying on China for fundamental parts of the supply chain. I think that also goes into the Chinese technology that we’re seeing—the ones that I’ve listed. We’ve got to get much more aggressive and be more honest about what the Chinese are doing.
I saw it at the UN. I saw that the Chinese are a veto-bearing member of the UN Security Council, a permanent member, but they also organize with the G7. As a developing country, they like to play both sides. They like to pretend like they’re powerful and take advantage of the developing nation policies.
We’ve got to start calling the Chinese out and recognizing that they have a system that is not beneficial to Americans—certainly not beneficial to transparency and democracy and the rule of law and capitalism—all of the things that the West believes in. We’ve got to start being much more aggressive and pushing back on their ways. Otherwise, we’re going to find ourselves in another situation where they’re taking over technology and grabbing intelligence and data for their own purposes or wreaking havoc on the world’s economy through another virus.
Mr. Jekielek: Ric, what would you say was the most significant action you were able to take during that time period when you were the acting DNI?
Mr. Grenell: I would say transparency and the move towards challenging the system and the bureaucrats to think differently about over-classification. You know, there are ways in Washington that the system just classifies all of the information as “top secret”—and then classifies it away, and it never gets released to the public.
We’re getting to the point where the public doesn’t have faith in many of the intelligence institutions, especially when we see the things like the Russian collusion hoax—the entire process where politicians said one thing on camera and another thing under oath. We have to push the bureaucracies to only classify information that is about a source or a method.
If it somehow gets classified because you’re trying to protect the reputation of the agency, then I think you’re doing a disservice to the American taxpayer. So what I tried to do is really push this idea of transparency and combat the over-classification problem in Washington through the intelligence agencies.
Mr. Jekielek: There are a lot of voices out there that are extremely opposed to President Trump and the whole Trump or America First agenda. Even some voices, especially when you look at social media, that are expressing vindictiveness against the people that support this. Are you concerned about this for yourself? Or for the President? Others? What are your thoughts here?
Mr. Grenell: Look, I think politics has always been a rough sport. And what we try to do from the outside, is really change Washington and the rules of Washington. The rules of Washington are really unique unto themselves. It includes the Speaker of the House being able to travel to San Francisco and break every possible rule about COVID-19—ask a small business owner to open up the salon and have her hair done.
And when she gets caught breaking those rules, suddenly, the small business owner stands up and says, “Wait a minute, you broke all these rules that you’re telling us to do?” And what does the Speaker of the House, the leader in Washington, the woman who’s been there for 40-plus years and knows every single rule and helped create all those rules, what does she say? She says to that small business owner, “You owe me an apology.” Because she’s not used to being challenged.
These are the ways of Washington. So I am very comfortable with speaking truth to power and challenging those in Washington who have created a system that is not good for the American people. The Trump administration, as an outsider group, was really able to go into these agencies and ask tough questions—ask the questions that outsiders never get to ask.
That unleashed a fire inside Washington, where people were really angry because their power was being lost. One of the lessons of the Trump administration and the reaction that you talked about—I would say the overreaction from the Washington DC insiders—one of the lessons that we should learn is that we the American people have to stop asking Washington to change itself.
They’re never going to change themselves. Every single agency and bureaucracy is based in Washington, DC. So they pull people from the same labor pool. If you live in Washington DC, you can work for the State Department, or the Interior Department, or the FDA, and every year you can change. You’re part of that federal labor pool that is just stuck in this Washington DC mentality. Those same people go to school with, go to church with, and socialize with reporters who live there.
So we have to be smart, those of us on the outside. We can’t be asking people in Washington, DC, who know each other, live there, have a livelihood there, their social life and their churches are there, their kids all know each other—we can’t ask them to make Washington DC a weaker place and lose its power—nobody gives up power on their own.
This idea that somehow the American people have sat back waiting for reporters to challenge the system and call out the hypocrisy or the abuse—that’s not going to happen. We’ve got to stop asking those in Washington DC to reform themselves. We have to take back our country. We have to send representatives to Washington that have passed a certain test. That test is that they don’t need Washington, they’re not looking for a career, and they’re not looking to please the Washington establishment or have a social life there.
We need people—like the Thomas Jefferson principle—that will represent their communities. Wisconsin residents need to send people to Washington, DC, that bring Wisconsin values. Kansas needs to do the same thing, as well as we in Southern California, the small towns of Southern California. I live in Rancho Mirage, California. We need to send people to Washington, DC that have Rancho Mirage values. This is the challenge of our time, to make sure that Washington reforms, but we on the outside have to recognize that they are never going to reform themselves. We have to demand it and send the representatives there that will do it.
Mr. Jekielek: Ric, perhaps you’ve actually started to answer this question already, but irrespective of whether it’s a four-year, or an eight-year Trump presidency, what would you say would be the most lasting legacies in your mind?
Mr. Grenell: I think the all-encompassing great legacy of the Trump administration and President Trump is to bring that outsider perspective to Washington to begin the reform then and the questioning and the change that really needed to happen. President Trump needs eight years to do that. I am hopeful that we’ll see another four years of President Trump. That can happen beginning in 2021, or beginning in four years after that in 2025.
I want to see President Trump continue changing Washington because for the first time in my life, we have a president that was tough enough and disinterested in the Washington media rules to be able to take on the fights that needed to be taken on. Too many times we’ve had presidents let the New York Times editorial board, the Washington Post editorial board, rule the administration.
Because they would write something that was mean or a critique and then suddenly, the administration would back down. What President Trump has delivered is a real outsider mentality. He did exactly what he said he was going to do. He is somebody who should be rewarded for being the outsider.
Lastly, I will say we also just need to recognize that all of those people on the inside in Washington, who have been screaming for the last four years with their hair on fire, you have to ask yourself, why did they have such a reaction? Why did they just want to stop everything that Trump was doing and was saying? That’s because he was an existential threat to their existence. President Trump recognized that if you would ignore the bureaucrats and let the people determine the policy, that the power in Washington DC fades away.
Mr. Jekielek: Ric Grenell such a pleasure to have you on
Mr. Grenell: Thanks for having me.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.