Ric Grenell. | AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
Updated: 05/26/2020 10:54 PM EDT
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell is set to join President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign amid a broader shakeup that saw the promotion of two other campaign officials on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The addition of Grenell, a trusted Trump ally who recently stepped down as acting director of national intelligence, would come as the president faces sliding poll numbers nationally and in a handful of key battleground states. A Fox News survey conducted before the holiday weekend found presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden defeating Trump 48 percent to 40 percent five months out from Election Day.
A person familiar with the move said Grenell will take a senior role inside the Trump campaign, where he will be involved in fundraising and strategy. It was not immediately clear what his title will be or whether he will work from the campaign’s Northern Virginia headquarters. Grenell was seen entering the White House on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the Trump campaign announced its promotion of senior political adviser Bill Stepien to serve as deputy campaign manager.
After this story was published, Grenell on Twitter called the report “fake news” and said “the entire story isn’t true.” Prior to publication, he hadn’t responded to a request for comment. The Trump campaign didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but campaign manager Brad Parscale also denied the report on Twitter after publication.
Grenell would be the latest longtime Trump ally to be installed in a senior role that ensures deep involvement with the president’s reelection operation and communications strategy. Trump recently brought former White House communications director Hope Hicks back into the West Wing, and promoted his former body man, John McEntee, to head the Office of Presidential Personnel after he rejoined the administration last December.
“He wants to bring the band back together,” said a senior administration official familiar with Trump’s thinking.
Grenell, who is expected to step down as ambassador to Germany in a few weeks, has long been a forceful personality on Twitter — one of the president’s preferred platforms for taking on political opponents and communicating with supporters. His social media activity sometimes rankled diplomatic colleagues and career State Department officials, who worried about straining U.S. relations with Germany.
Grenell was a strong advocate of Trump’s nationalist policies, which at times didn’t play well with his German hosts. And during his short tenure as the nation’s top intelligence official, Grenell presided over a number of changes at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, including slightly reducing the size of the National Counterterrorism Center and having the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which is part of ODNI, take over election security briefings.
Grenell, who’s openly gay, also said the Trump administration could potentially cut back on the sharing of intelligence with countries that have criminalized homosexuality and urged U.S. intelligence agencies to do a better job of preventing discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender employees.
In 2012, Grenell briefly served as a spokesman for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign. He resigned under pressure from social conservative groups who were critical of the campaign’s employment of an openly gay man. Throughout his tenure in the Trump administration, he repeatedly denounced countries that continue to outlaw homosexuality and once met with European LGBTQ activists to discuss his push to decriminalize homosexuality abroad.
Grenell also served as a spokesman at the U.S. mission at the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration. Prior to joining the Trump administration, he worked in media and public affairs consulting.