‘Notably Rude Twitter Troll’
President Donald Trump is expected to install Richard Grenell, his current Ambassador to Germany, as his next Acting Director of National Intelligence, according to The New York Times. Grenell is known as a bombastic Trump loyalist who has not been well received in Berlin.
Some eyebrows are being raised, not due to Grenell’s harsh attitudes but his disturbing lack of qualifications for the job of Director of National Intelligence, also known as the DNI.
The DNI is a Cabinet-level official who sits at the very top of the entire Intelligence Community, serving as the head of the 17 federal agencies that comprise it. They also serve as the President’s chief advisor on national security, and produce the top-secret President’s Daily Brief (PDB).
Federal law states quite clearly, “Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.”
Ambassador to Germany does not qualify. Grenell previously has served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations,
He has run a public affairs consultancy, has been a Fox News contributor, and for a few days was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security spokesperson, but was forced to step down after conservatives blasted the former governor over Grenell’s sexual orientation.
In November the German magazine Der Spiegel ran a damning profile of Grenell titled, “Trump’s Ambassador Finds Few Friends in Germany.” (Ironically, one of the reasons Trump gave for firing his venerated Ambassador to Ukraine was that she was not well-liked in the country, which was false.)
“Since arriving in Berlin as U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell has flouted diplomatic conventions and attempted to interfere in domestic politics. He has since become politically isolated in the German capital,” Der Spiegel reported.
In the extremely “unflattering” article Grenell is compared to “a right-wing extremist colonial officer,”
“The powerful avoid him. Doors have been shut. Few politicians to the left of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AFD) and the populist-conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), want to be seen with him.”
It gets worse.
Der Spiegel writes they spoke with 30 sources before publishing their report.
“Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others.”
All that aside, again, Grenell is not qualified, neither by law nor by common sense.
Here’s a former Senior Director of the National Security Council:
The only people happy about this are the Germans. https://t.co/uEfmETFrPW
— Jon B. Wolfsthal (@JBWolfsthal) February 20, 2020
Other experts and journalists agree:
Reminder: Jim Clapper spent 50 years in intelligence, headed two agencies, and served as the Under Sec of intel at the Pentagon before becoming DNI. Ric Grenell was … a notably rude Twitter troll. https://t.co/ST1adUqJJR
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) February 19, 2020
This is a national disgrace. Grenell would be the least qualified intelligence chief in US history. https://t.co/WliTv6DHTe
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) February 19, 2020
Dan makes a key point. Not only is Grenell horrible, not only has he been a terrible diplomat…he has no intelligence experience, no real management experience, not only shred of the experience to do this vital job. IC should rise up and protest. An insult to them all. https://t.co/9FnbpuqEB9
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) February 19, 2020
Because Grenell is Senate-confirmed (as Ambassador to Germany), the President has the authority to name him Acting DNI under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
Of course, there’d be no reason not to _nominate_ him to be the actual DNI if he were actually qualified for the job… https://t.co/PGNShWGzXp
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) February 19, 2020
The moron running the country is about to appoint the least qualified intelligence director in history – by a wide margin. A move guaranteed to make us less safe as a country. https://t.co/EovNSPvU70
— Josh Moon (@Josh_Moon) February 19, 2020
Apart from questions about Grenell’s qualifications, temperament and relevant experience for this role, the move also raises questions about the Worldwide Threat Assessment – how soon would a brand new, acting DNI present an annual threat assessment before Congress
— Olivia Gazis (@Olivia_Gazis) February 19, 2020
Nightmare Scenario No. Infinity
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) February 19, 2020
Grenell as DNI? This is crazy, even by the standards of this administration.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 19, 2020
Another slap in the face to my former intel colleagues. Grenell is a partisan bombthrower whose only skill is defending Trump. Trump’s decision not to nominate a permanent DNI underscores that he has no use for intel and no regard for national security. https://t.co/JDk83yBq3j
— Ned Price (@nedprice) February 19, 2020
First, Grenell appears to have precisely zero experience with the business or management of the intelligence community. He has no background with intelligence strategy or priorities. He has no credibility within the community.
— katrina mulligan (@NatSecMulligan) February 19, 2020
What he lacks in “extensive national security expertise” he apparently makes up for in tweets. Grenell seems to be known for his sharp social media skills—skills he would be well-advised to abstain from if he is to become the DNI.
— katrina mulligan (@NatSecMulligan) February 19, 2020
Sen. Mark Warner: "The President has selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community … This is the second acting director the President has named … apparently in an effort to sidestep the Senate."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 20, 2020
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‘George Washington Would Have Had a Hard Time Beating Me’: Trump Brags His Poll Numbers Are ‘Going Up Like a Rocket’
President Donald Trump, currently losing in the polls to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by an average of about 7 points, is claiming his polling numbers are so great he might have beat founding father George Washington.
“We’re doing very well,” Trump told far right radio host Hugh Hewitt Tuesday morning. “I don’t know if you’ve seen, the polls have been going up like a rocket ship.”
“Hey, I was, George Washington would have had a hard time beating me before the plague came in, before the China plague,” Trump continued, uttering his racial slur. “And then, you know, like every other nation, like other countries, when you get hit, it affects you, and we went down a little bit.”
Trump numbers have taken a sharp downward trend over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“And then we went down a little bit more, and now we’re coming up at a level that we haven’t seen,” Trump said, which is false related to publicly released polling data.
“I just got back from Texas, Ohio and Florida. We’ve got all law enforcement awards, everything. We got the endorsement from all of them. But I just got back, and they’re the largest crowds on the highway I’ve ever seen. I’d love to do the rallies. We can’t because of the COVID. You know, you can’t have people sitting next to each other.”
Surgeon General Opposes Mask Mandate: It Would Have to Be Enforced – by ‘Sending in Federal Troops’ Like in Portland
The U.S. Surgeon General says he and the entire Trump administration now fully support calling for everyone in America to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but he will not support a federal mask mandate.
“This whole administration is now supportive of masks.” –U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, today, July 20th, 131 days into the pandemic pic.twitter.com/nnWiwHmK5j
— The Recount (@therecount) July 20, 2020
Saying he’s concerned Americans are “letting the politics and the policy get in the way,” Vice Admiral Jerome Adams says if President Trump were to require face coverings be worn, it would have to be enforced.
“You all were talking earlier about what’s going on in Portland, and the debate over whether or not to bring in federal troops to other parts of the United States,” Adams said, referring to the Dept. of Homeland Security sending in federal SWAT teams and abducting random demonstrators from the streets in Oregon.
“If you’re going to have a federal mandate you have to have a federal enforcement mechanism,” Adams said, suggesting that “mechanism” would be federal SWAT teams, which is false. Federal law and policy are enforced every day without having to send in SWAT teams. In fact, the Oregon Attorney General is suing the Dept. of Homeland Security over its occupation.
Adams added he would rather have state and local officials mandate masks than the federal government, and convince Americans why it’s important to wear them, instead of “sending in federal troops.”
On Fox & Friends, the Surgeon General advocates for mask wearing but stops short of calling for a federal mandate, because that would require a “federal enforcement mechanism” that could look like Portland, OR. pic.twitter.com/ktGHa6RmOf
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) July 20, 2020
MAGA Mega-Church Pastor: Secularists, Atheists and ‘Infidels’ Have Perverted Our ‘Christian’ Nation’s Constitution
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, insisted on recent episodes of his “Pathway to Victory” broadcast that “America is a Christian Nation.” Jeffress, who hosted Vice President Mike Pence for a “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” worship service on June 28, is a regular fixture on Fox News, where he relentlessly promotes President Donald Trump and denounces the president’s opponents. Pathway to Victory is aired daily on more than 900 radio stations in the U.S., according to First Baptist.
In the week between Pence’s appearance and the Fourth of July, Jeffress devoted two Pathways to Victory episodes to the theme “America at a Crossroads,” followed by episodes on July 1 and July 2 titled “America is a Christian Nation.” The overlapping content of those programs—which seem to recycle sermons Jeffress has delivered—pushed several themes:
- America was founded as a Christian nation.
- The First Amendment was designed to put all Christian denominations on equal footing, not to make Christianity “subservient” to other religions.
- Secularists and other infidels have perverted the meaning of the Constitution.
- Politics in the U.S. today is a battle between good and evil.
To buttress his case that America has always been a Christian nation, Jeffress took a page from oft-debunked religious-right pseudo-historian David Barton, cherry-picking quotes from the Founding Fathers and early court decisions. Jeffress cited an 1844 case about a wealthy man in Pennsylvania who left money in his will to start a school for orphans with the stipulation that no Christian minister could teach in the school. Some of the man’s heirs sued on various grounds; they argued in part that the prohibition on clergy teaching at the school discriminated against Christianity. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and upheld the will, saying that the prohibition on ministers as teachers did not violate the state constitution, impugn Christianity or prevent lay people from teaching the Bible. Jeffress quoted approvingly from a section of the ruling:
Likewise, the court had something to say about those who would say, ‘Well then, you’ve got to treat all religions the same.’ They said, ‘It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider what the legal effect of such a device in Pennsylvania for the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism or deism or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.”
Jeffress also cited a 1799 decision by the Maryland Supreme Court that included the assertion, “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion” of the United States. Jeffress adds:
Now think about it. Seven years after the ratification of the First Amendment, this court says we have an established religion. It is the Christian religion. They understood exactly what the founders had in mind. They understood that yes, this is a Christian nation, but no one denomination is to be elevated [over] another. ‘Cause look at the second phrase. Yes, the Christian religion is the established religion, ‘and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.’
It seems less likely that Jeffress or his religious-right allies would embrace the rest of the holding in that case, which inserted the court into a dispute over a congregation’s effort to dismiss and replace its minister.
Jeffress did discuss the letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, in which Jefferson praised the First Amendment for having built “a wall of separation between Church & State.” But, Jeffress claimed, “The context of this was the elevation of one Christian denomination over another Christian denomination. Never in their wildest imaginations did Thomas Jefferson or the Founding Fathers ever believe that that First Amendment would be perverted in such a way as to try to separate our country from its Christian heritage.”
In fact, Jefferson was extremely proud of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—widely considered a precursor to the First Amendment—and the legislative battle that prevented “Jesus Christ” from being inserted into its preamble, which made clear, in Jefferson’s words, that the law was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”
In his broadcasts, Jeffress cited a litany of commonly voiced religious-right complaints about Supreme Court rulings, beginning with a series of 20th Century rulings that strengthened church-state separation and put an end to official prayer and devotional Bible readings in public schools. Contrasting them with the language used by 19th Century courts and politicians. Jeffress asked:
And here’s the question: What has changed? What has changed? In these 150 years, has the Constitution changed and nobody told us? Is that what happened? Of course not. What has happened is we have allowed the secularists, the humanists, the atheists, the infidels, to pervert our Constitution into something our Founding Fathers never intended. And it is time for Americans to stand up and say ‘Enough! We’re not going to allow this in our Christian country anymore.’ It is time to put an end to this.
Jeffress used two metaphors for describing the court rulings he claims perverted the Constitution. In one telling, each case was a stone building the wall of separation ever higher. In another, each case was like an explosion set in a building’s foundation to bring it down in an implosion. Roe v. Wade and the marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges were other “explosions,” he said, claiming that the country is living in that moment between the explosions and the building’s collapse: “No nation that outlaws the mention of God in the public square, that celebrates the murder of its own children, that destroys the most basic unit of society—the family—no nation is going to survive that.”
But Jeffress doesn’t want his audience to despair. “No, this is not depressing as long as you understand our purpose as Christians. If you understand our purpose as Christians, there’s never been a better time to be alive and living in America than right now.” Christians, he said, are meant to push back against evil. And since God designed government to be a “restrainer of evil,” he said, “when we elect government officials, we are determining the moral and spiritual direction of our country.”
Jeffress is not subtle. Citing the candidates’ different positions on abortion, he portrayed the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary Clinton as a battle “between good and evil.” And he said that’s true of politics in the U.S. today. “If you don’t hear another word I say this morning, hear this: what we’re facing in this country is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is a battle between good and evil, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan,” he said. “That’s exactly what is at stake in this country.”
On the recent broadcasts, Jeffress talked about his church’s $135 million, six-block campus in downtown Dallas, which he said is debt-free. He repeatedly asked people to contribute money to a $575,000 matching campaign to “replenish the arsenal” and expand his program’s reach before a July 5 deadline. First Baptist received between $2 million and $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, according to records released recently by the Trump administration. Jeffress also promoted his most recent book, “Praying for America,” which urges people to vote for “God-honoring candidates.”
The Christian-nation version of the U.S. founding promoted by Jeffress and Barton has been widely challenged by historians, including evangelical Christians like John Fea, author of “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”
This article was first published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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